Three Expensive Things Worth Buying (Even on a College Budget)

featured_money@wdd2xNo matter how you’re financing your college education—through scholarships, savings, working, loans, etc.—your college budget is likely to be tight.

I had generous scholarships and a reasonable pile of savings helping me through my four undergraduate years, but even then I spent plenty of time counting coins at the supermarket, dragging my laundry home to avoid the dorm machine costs, and making up excuses to avoid eating out with friends or colleagues at restaurants out of my budget (ordering the smallest and cheapest dishes said restaurants had whenever I couldn’t come up with a good enough excuse).

In some ways, four years of penny-pinching paid off: I graduated in a more financially secure position than I’d expected to, never had to take out a student loan, and avoided burdening my family with high college costs. However, I also learned the hard way that there are some things worth splurging on.

I know that college student budgets vary widely, and that sometimes it’s just not possible to spend money on the arguably luxury items in this list – whenever the funds can be safely afforded, however, I highly, highly recommend investing in the following three things:

1) A Good Mattress
This may not be an option if you live in a dorm, but if you’re buying your own bed to use throughout college, this is a must (and even if your school does provide you with a mattress, a good mattress topper is just as helpful). Even though I could have spared just enough money to buy a mattress with adequate support, I ended up with some nasty shoulder and lower-back pain because I spent far too long on a thin, flimsy bit of foam that thinned to nothing within four months of regular use (even though I’m a relatively small person; I heard plenty worse from my larger friends).

Today, two awful dorm bed mattresses later, I’m working on hammering out the kinks in my shoulder with a massage therapist who charges $85 per hour. And I’m not alone – I know others who picked up lifelong back problems just from a year or two on a bad college mattress. Pay for the mattress now to avoid paying for your health later.

2) Fresh, Healthy Food
Meal plans and junk food are tempting and (often) cheaper than the healthier options, but your body and your mind will thank you throughout and after college if you choose fresh produce over instant ramen. Healthy food improves your academic performance, keeps you energized, and boosts your mood, which makes you both a better student and a generally happier person. Pay for real nourishment to get the most out of the money you’re spending on your education.

3) Study Abroad
This is by far the most expensive item on this list, but it deserves to be included because study abroad is an incredible supplement to your college education. Study abroad programs allow you to expand your horizons and gain new perspectives through travel and exposure to new places and people. Classes help you meet types of people you’ve never met before; program and university affiliation provide a safety net (health insurance, counseling resources, emergency loans, and other benefits) to reduce the risks that may come with spending a lot of time in an unfamiliar place; and financial aid and scholarships are available to ease the financial burden.

Studying abroad is especially worth the money because it’s something you can only do while in school. The opportunity to spend an entire semester or year exploring a new world, especially with a program and an academic structure to keep you safe and help you integrate, is rare and precious and should be seized.

Do you need help with your college applications? Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Courtney Tran is a student at UC Berkeley, studying Political Economy and Rhetoric. In high school, she was named a National Merit Finalist and National AP Scholar, and she represented her district two years in a row in Public Forum Debate at the National Forensics League National Tournament.

How to Simplify Complicated Combination and Permutation Questions on the GMAT

GMATWhen test-takers first learn how to tackle combination and permutation questions, there’s typically a moment of euphoria when the proper approach really clicks.

If, for example, there are 10 people in a class, and you wish to find the number of ways you can form a cabinet consisting of a president, a vice president, and a treasurer, all you need to do is recognize that if you have 10 options for the president, you’ll have 9 left for the vice president, and 8 remaining for the treasurer, and the answer is 10*9*8. Easy, right?

But on the GMAT, as in life, anything that seems too good to be true probably is. An easy question can be tackled with the type of mechanical thinking illustrated above. A harder question will require a more sophisticated approach in which we consider disparate scenarios and perform calculations for each.

Take this question, for example:

Of the three-digit positive integers whose three digits are all different and nonzero, how many are odd integers greater than 700?

A) 84
B) 91
C) 100
D) 105
E) 243

It’s natural to see this problem and think, “All I have to do is reason out how many options I have for each digit. So for the hundreds digit, I have 3 options (7, 8, or 9); the tens digit has to be different from the hundreds digit, and it must be non-zero, so I’ll have 8 options here; then the last digit has to be odd, so…”

Here’s where the trouble starts. The number of eligible numbers in the 700’s will not be the same as the number of eligible numbers in the 800’s -if the digits must all be different, then a number in the 700’s can’t end in 7, but a number in the 800’s could. So, we need to break this problem into separate cases:

First Case: Numbers in the 700’s  
If we’re dealing with numbers in the 700’s, then we’re calculating how many ways we can select a tens digit and a units digit. 7___ ___.

Let’s start with the units digit. Well, we know that this number needs to be odd. And we know that it must be different from the hundreds and the tens digits. This leaves us the following options, as we’ve already used 7 for the hundreds digit: 1, 3, 5, 9. So there are 4 options remaining for the units digit.

Now the tens digit must be a non-zero number that’s different from the hundreds and units digit. There are 9 non-zero digits. We’re using one of those for the hundreds place and one of those for the units place, leaving us 7 options remaining for the tens digit. If there are 4 ways we can select the units digit and 7 ways we can select the tens digit, there are 4*7 = 28 options in the 700’s.

Second Case: Numbers in the 800’s
Same logic: 8 ___ ___. Again, this number must be odd, but now we have 5 options for the units digit, as every odd number will obviously be different from the hundreds digit, which is even (1, 3, 5, 7, or 9). The tens digit logic is the same – 9 non-zero digits total, but it must be different from the hundreds and the units digit, leaving us 7 options remaining. If there are 5 ways we can select the units digit and 7 ways we can select the tens digit, there are 5*7 = 35 options in the 800’s.

Third Case: Numbers in the 900’s
This calculation will be identical to the 700’s scenario: 9___ ___. For the units digit, we want an odd number that is different from the hundreds digit, giving us (1, 3, 5, 7), or 4 options. We’ll have 7 options again for the tens digit, for the same reasons that we’ll have 7 options for the tens digit in our other cases. If there are 4 ways we can select the units digit and 7 ways we can select the tens digit, then there are 4*7 = 28 options in the 900’s.

To summarize, there are 28 options in the 700’s, 35 options in the 800’s, and 28 options in the 900’s. 28 + 35 + 28 = 91. Therefore, B is the correct answer.

Takeaway: for a simpler permutation question, it’s fine to simply set up your slots and multiply. For a more complicated problem, we’ll need to work case-by-case, bearing in mind that each individual case is, on its own, actually not nearly as hard as it looks, sort of like the GMAT itself.

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter!

By David Goldstein, a Veritas Prep GMAT instructor based in Boston. You can find more articles written by him here.

Understanding the GMAT Integrated Reasoning Scoring

Integrated Reasoning GMATThe Integrated Reasoning section is one of four that make up the GMAT. The questions in this section are useful in gauging an individual’s evaluation and problem-solving skills. These are some of the same skills used by business professionals on a daily basis. The GMAT Integrated Reasoning scoring system is different than the scoring on other parts of the exam.

Consider some information that can improve your understanding of the scoring process for the Integrated Reasoning section:

Profile of the Integrated Reasoning Section on the GMAT
Before learning about GMAT Integrated Reasoning scoring, it’s a good idea to know a little about the questions you’ll encounter in this section. These questions ask you to examine various charts, diagrams, and tables. You then need to evaluate, organize, and synthesize the data to answer questions. It’s important to filter the essential data from the non-essential data.

There are 12 questions in this section, and each one has several parts. The four types of questions featured in the Integrated Reasoning section are Two-Part Analysis, Multi-Source Reasoning, Graphics Interpretation, and Table Analysis. In this section, the order and difficulty of the questions is random.

One of the best ways to prep for the Integrated Reasoning section as well as all of the others on the GMAT is to take a practice exam. At Veritas Prep, you can see how your skills stack up in each section by taking our free GMAT practice test. We also provide you with a score report and performance analysis to make your study time all the more efficient!

Scoring on the Integrated Reasoning Section
When it comes to the GMAT section on Integrated Reasoning, scoring comes in the form of single-digits – the scores for this section range from one to eight. You receive a raw score that is given a percentile ranking. The score you receive for the Integrated Reasoning section doesn’t affect your total score for other sections on the GMAT. (Note that you won’t be able to see your Integrated Reasoning score on the unofficial score report that is shown to test-takers immediately after the GMAT is complete.) You will find out your Integrated Reasoning score in 20 days or so, when your official score report is delivered to you.

Considerations for Integrated Reasoning Questions
There are some pieces of information that can prove helpful to you as you tackle the Integrated Reasoning section on the GMAT. For instance, you can’t earn partial credit for these questions. That’s why it’s important to pay close attention to all parts of each question. Furthermore, you can’t answer just part of a question and click forward to the next question. And after answering an Integrated Reasoning question, you won’t be able to go back and rethink an answer. These are things to keep in mind to avoid making preventable errors in this section.

Preparing for the Integrated Reasoning Section
For the section on Integrated Reasoning, scoring is a little different than it is on the rest of the test, but it’s just as important to excel here as on the other sections. The effective curriculum of our GMAT prep courses can supply you with the mental resources you need to master the Integrated Reasoning section along with every other section on the exam.

Veritas Prep instructors are ideally suited to prepare you for the GMAT, since each of them earned a score on the GMAT that put them in the 99th percentile. Our professional tutors understand that you have to think like the Testmaker in order to master every part of the exam. In addition to being knowledgeable and experienced, our instructors are experts at offering lots of encouragement to their students.

On top of providing you with first-rate prep for the GMAT, we also offer you options when it comes to how you study. We have both online and in-person classes designed to suit your busy schedule – we know that many people who take the GMAT also have full-time careers. Be sure to take advantage of Veritas Prep’s other valuable services, such as our live homework help, available seven days a week. This means you never have to wait to get your questions answered! Contact our offices today to get started on your GMAT studies.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

MBA Essays: Optimizing Content to Make You Stand Out

writing essayBusiness school candidates are often asked to reflect on the most special moments of their lives as they write their application essays. However, prompts that ask for this are so open – they allow applicants to discuss any aspect of their lives, from the very personal to more typical career highlights – it is often difficult to know where to start. Follow these tips to make sure your MBA essays truly stand out:

Use the Space for More Unique Highlights
Reflecting honestly, some candidates may identify the birth of their children (if they have them) as the most special events in their lives. For example, an applicant may feel that overcoming a challenging pregnancy or mentoring his or her child is their most important moment – like most parents, I agree that these can be the most significant, fulfilling, and life-changing events a person can experience.

However, even if it is not explicitly stated, there is also a need in your business school applications to show what sets you apart from other candidates – what unique dimensions you can bring to the program. Thus, while parenthood is a great blessing and a primary aspect of life for many, it is not a great differentiator for one’s MBA applications. With such limited space available to write your essays, your parenthood can be mentioned briefly as a source of motivation and purpose for pursuing your MBA, but should probably not be the main focal point of your essay.

Remember to also keep your answers to essay questions concise. For example, you may share how you saved your family’s business during one part of your application, and play up your sense of responsibility as a major strength during another section of the application, however sharing the former should have already done the job of covering both points. You can then use the second space to display your other impressive strengths.

Being concise in your essays will allow you to cover more ground, share more of your personality, and add more dimensions to your application. You would be better off highlighting another, different strength than writing about a strength that could have been covered in an earlier narrative.

Add Just the Right Level of Detail
Although you should definitely use your MBA essays to touch on your motivations and inspiration for attending business school, and share other exciting activities that you participate in, remember that allocating 200 words to specifics such as a detailed medical procedure or your philosophies about parenting is not ideal. Briefly mentioning these details in passing can tie the theme of your essay together and give it a nice flow, but dwelling too long on them can jumble your message and confuse the reader.

Similarly, playing up only one general strength (such as your physical prowess) through a whole paragraph could come off negatively and make it seem like you do not have much else to offer. Allocating too much space for one strength comes with the opportunity cost of not being able to present your other strengths and aspects of personal development to the Admissions Committee. In contrast, sharing an unexpected range of talents and interests will be more exciting and win over a broader type of audience.

Remember to Be Real
Finally, as you choose your essay content, be sure that you choose meaningful events and real challenges that you have faced. Stay away from token failures and weaknesses – for instance, identifying losing a game at a party would seem silly to mention during your essays, and writing about it could actually make you come off as insincere. Use the space you are allotted to show your ability to honestly evaluate yourself, identify the next steps in your development, and recognize how an MBA will fit into your career plans.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD. 

Quarter Wit, Quarter Wisdom: Using the Deviation Method for Weighted Averages

Quarter Wit, Quarter WisdomWe have discussed how to use the deviation method to find the arithmetic mean of numbers. It is very useful in cases where the numbers are huge, as it considerably brings down the calculation time.

The same method can be applied to weighted averages, as well. Let’s look at an example very similar to the one we examined when we were working on deviations in the case of arithmetic means:

What is the average of 452, 452, 453, 460, 467, 480, 499,  499, 504?

What would you say the average is here? Perhaps, around 470?

We have two 452s – 452 is 18 less than 470.
453 is 17 less than 470.
460 is 10 less than 470.
467 is 3 less than 470.

Overall, the numbers less than 470 are (2*18) + 17 + 10 + 3 = 66 less than 470.

480 is 10 more than 470.
We have two 499s – 499 is 29 more than 470.
504 is 34 more than 470.

Overall, the numbers more than 470 are 10 + (2*29) + 34 = 102 more than 470.

The shortfall is not balanced by the excess; there is an excess of 102-66 = 36.

So what is the average? If we assume that the average of these 9 numbers is 470, there will be an excess of 36. We need to distribute this excess evenly among all of the numbers, and hence, the average will increase by 36/9 = 4.

Therefore, the required mean is 470 + 4 = 474. (If we had assumed the mean to be 474, the shortfall would have balanced the excess.)

This method is used in exactly the same way when we have a simple average as when we have a weighted average. The reason we are reviewing it is that it can be very handy in weighted average questions involving more than two quantities.

We often deal with questions on weighted averages involving two quantities using the scale method. Let’s see how to use the deviation method for more than 2 quantities on an official GMAT question:

Three grades of milk are 1 percent, 2 percent and 3 percent fat by volume. If x gallons of the 1 percent grade, y gallons of the 2 percent grade, and z gallons of the 3 percent grade are mixed to give x+y+z gallons of a 1.5 percent grade, what is x in terms of y and z?

(A) y + 3z
(B) (y +z) / 4
(C) 2y + 3z
(D) 3y + z
(E) 3y + 4.5z

Grade 1 milk contains 1% fat. Grade 2  milk contains 2% fat. Grade 3 milk contains 3% fat. The mixture of all three contains 1.5% fat. So, grade 1 milk provides the shortfall and grades 2 and 3 milk provide the excess.

Shortfall = x*(1.5 – 1)
Excess = y*(2 – 1.5) + z*(3 – 1.5)

Since 1.5 is the actual average, the shortfall = the excess.

x*(1.5 – 1) = y*(2 – 1.5) + z*(3 – 1.5)
x/2 = y/2 + 3z/2
x = y + 3z

And there you have it – the answer is A.

We easily used deviations here to arrive at the relation. It’s good to have this method – useful for both simple averages and weighted averages – in your GMAT toolkit.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!

GMAT Tip of the Week: 6 Reasons That Your Test Day Won’t Be A Labor Day

GMAT Tip of the WeekAs the northern hemisphere drifts toward autumn, two events have become just about synonymous: Labor Day and Back to School. If you’re spending this Labor Day weekend getting yourself ready to go back to graduate school, you may well labor over GMAT study materials in between barbecues and college football games. And if you do, make sure you heed this wisdom: GMAT test day should not be Labor Day!

What does that mean?

On a timed test like the GMAT, one of the biggest drains on your score can be a combination of undue time and undue energy spent on problems that could be done much simpler. “The long way is the wrong way” as a famous GMAT instructor puts it – those seconds you waste, those extra steps that could lead to error or distraction, they’ll add up over the test and pull your score much lower than you’d like it to be. With that in mind, here are six ways to help you avoid too much labor on test day:

1) Do the math in your order, only when necessary.
Because the GMAT doesn’t allow a calculator, it heavily rewards candidates who can find efficient ways to avoid the kind of math for which you’d need a calculator. Very frequently this means that the GMAT will tempt you with calculations that you’d ordinarily just plug-and-chug with a calculator, but that can be horribly time-consuming once you start.

For example, a question might require you to take an initial number like 15, then multiply by 51, then divide by 17. On a calculator or in Excel, you’d do exactly that. But on the GMAT, that calculation gets messy. 15*51 = 765 – a calculation that isn’t awful but that will take most people a few steps and maybe 20 seconds. But then you have to do some long division with 17 going into 765. Or do you? If you’re comfortable using factors, multiples, and reducing fractions, you can see those two steps (multiply by 51, divide by 17) as one: multiply by 51/17, and since 51/17 reduces to 3, then you’re really just doing the calculation 15*3, which is easily 45.

The lesson? For one, don’t start doing ugly math until you absolutely know you have to perform that step. Save ugly math for later, because the GMAT is notorious for “rescuing” those who are patient enough to wait for future steps that will simplify the process. And, secondly, get really, really comfortable with factors and divisibility. Quickly recognizing how to break a number into its factors (51 = 3*17; 65 = 5*13; etc.) allows you to streamline calculations and do much of the GMAT math in your head. Getting to that level of comfort may take some labor, but it will save you plenty of workload on test day.

2) Recognize that “Answers Are Assets.”
Another way to avoid or shortcut messy math is to look at the answer choices first. Some problems might look like they involve messy algebra, but can be made much easier by plugging in answer choices and doing the simpler arithmetic. Other times, the answer choices will lead themselves to process of elimination, whether because some choices do not have the proper units digit, or are clearly too small.

Still others will provide you with clues as to how you have to attack the math. For example, if the answer choices are something like: A) 0.0024; B) 0.0246; C) 0.246; D) 2.46; E) 24.6, they’re not really testing you on your ability to arrive at the digits 246, but rather on where the decimal point should go (how many times should that number be multiplied/divided by 10). You can then set your sights on the number of decimal places while not stressing other details of the calculation.

Whatever you do, always scan the answer choices first to see if there are easier ways to do the problem than to simply slog through the math. The answers are assets – they’re there for a reason, and often, they’ll provide you with clues that will help you save valuable time.

3) Question the Question – Know where the game is being played.
Very often, particularly in Data Sufficiency, the GMAT Testmaker will subtly provide a clue as to what’s really being tested. And those who recognize that can very quickly focus on what matters and not get lost in other elements of the problem.

For example, if the question stem includes an inequality with zero (x > 0 or xy < 0), there’s a very high likelihood that you’re being tested on positive/negative number properties. So, when a statement then says something like “1) x^3 = 1331”, you can hold off on trying to take the cube root of 1331 and simply say, “Odd exponent = positive value, so I know that x is positive,” and see if that helps you answer the question without much calculation. Or if the problem asks for the value of 6x – y, you can say to yourself, “I may not be able to solve for x and y individually, but if not, let’s try to isolate exactly that 6x – y term,” and set up your algebra accordingly so that you’re efficiently working toward that specific goal.

Good test-takers tend to see “where the game is being played” by recognizing what the Testmaker is testing. When you can see that a question is about number properties (and not exact values) or a combination of values (and not the individual values themselves) or a comparison of values (again, not the actual values themselves), you can structure your work to directly attack the question and not fall victim to a slog of unnecessary calculations.

4) Focus on keywords in Critical Reasoning conclusions.
The Verbal section simply looks time-consuming because there’s so much to read, so it pays to know where to spend your time and focus. The single most efficient place to spend time (and the most disastrous if you don’t) is in the conclusion of a Strengthen or Weaken question. To your advantage, noticing a crucial detail in a conclusion can tell you exactly “where the game is being played” (Oh, it’s not how much iron, it’s iron PER CALORIE; it’s not that Company X needs to reduce costs overall, it’s that it needs to reduce SHIPPING costs; etc.) and help you quickly search for the answer choices that deal with that particular gap in logic.

On the downside, if you don’t spend time emphasizing the conclusion, you’re in trouble – burying a conclusion-limiting word or phrase (like “per calorie” or “shipping”) in a long paragraph can be like hiding a needle in a haystack. The Testmaker knows that the untrained are likely to miss these details, and have created trap answers (and just the opportunity to waste time re-reading things that don’t really matter) for those who fall in that group.

5) Scan the Sentence Correction answer choices before you dive into the sentence.
Much like “Answers are Assets” above, a huge help on Sentence Correction problems is to scan the answer choices quickly to see if you can determine where the game is being played (Are they testing pronouns? Verb tenses?). Simply reading a sentence about a strange topic (old excavation sites, a kind of tree that only grows on the leeward slopes of certain mountains…) and looking for anything that strikes you as odd or ungrammatical, that takes time and saps your focus and energy.

However, the GMAT primarily tests a handful of concepts over and over, so if you recognize what is being tested, you can read proactively and look for the words/phrases that directly control that decision you’re being asked to make. Do different answers have different verb tenses? Look for words that signal time (before, since, etc.). Do they involve different pronouns? Read to identify the noun in question and determine which pronoun it needs. You’re not really being tasked with “editing the sentence” as much as your job is to make the proper decision with the choices they’ve already given you. They’ve already narrowed the scope of items you can edit, so identify that scope before you take out the red marking pen across the whole sentence.

6) STOP and avoid rereading.
As the Veritas Prep Reading Comprehension lesson teaches, stop at the end of each paragraph of a reading passage to ask yourself whether you understand Scope, Tone, Organization, and Purpose. The top two time-killers on Reading Comprehension passages/problems are re-reading (you get to the end and realize you don’t really know what you just read) and over-reading (you took several minutes absorbing a lot of details, but now the clock is ticking louder and you haven’t looked at the questions yet).

STOP will help you avoid re-reading (if you weren’t locked in on the first paragraph, you can reread that in 30 seconds and not wait to the end to realize you need to reread the whole thing) and will give you a quick checklist of, “Do I understand just enough to move on?” Details are only important if you’re asked about them, so focus on the major themes (Do you know what the paragraph was about – a quick 5-7 word synopsis is perfect – and why it was written? Good.) and save the details for later.

It may seem ironic that the GMAT is set up to punish hard-workers, but in business, efficiency is everything – the test needs to reward those who work smarter and not just harder, so an effective test day simply cannot be a Labor Day. Use this Labor Day weekend to study effectively so that test day is one on which you prioritize efficiency, not labor.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter!

By Brian Galvin.

GMAT Geometry Practice Questions and Problems

SAT/ACTWould you call yourself a math person? If so, you’ll be glad to know that there are plenty of algebra, geometry, arithmetic, and other types of math problems on the GMAT. Perhaps you like math but need a little review when it comes to the topic of geometry. If so, learn some valuable tips on how to prep for GMAT geometry problems before you get started studying for the exam.

Learn and Practice the Basic Geometry Formulas
Knowing some basic formulas in geometry is an essential step to mastering these questions on the GMAT. One formula you should know is the Pythagorean Theorem, which is a^2 + b^2 = c^2, where c stands for the longest side of a right triangle, while a and b represent the other two sides.

Another formula to remember is the area of a triangle, which is A = 1/2bh, where A is the area, b is the length of the base, and h is the height. The formula for finding the area of a rectangle is l*w = A (length times width equals the area). Once you learn these and other basic geometry formulas for the GMAT, the next step is to put them into practice so you know how to use them when they’re called for on the exam.

Complete Practice Quizzes and Questions
Reviewing problems and their answers and completing GMAT geometry practice questions are two ways to sharpen your skills for this section of the test. This sort of practice also helps you become accustomed to the timing when it comes to GMAT geometry questions. These questions are found within the Quantitative section of the GMAT.

You are given just 75 minutes to finish 37 questions in this section. Of course, not all 37 questions involve geometry – GMAT questions in the Quantitative section also include algebra, arithmetic, and word problems – but working on completing each geometry problem as quickly as possible will help you finish the section within the time limit. In fact, you should work on establishing a rhythm for each section of the GMAT so you don’t have to worry about watching the time.

Use Simple Study Tools to Review Problems
Another way to prepare for GMAT geometry questions is to use study tools such as flashcards to strengthen your skills. Some flashcards are virtual and can be accessed as easily as taking your smartphone out of your pocket. If you prefer traditional paper flashcards, they can also be carried around easily so you can review them during any free moments throughout the day. Not surprisingly, a tremendous amount of review can be accomplished at odd moments during a single day.

In addition, playing geometry games online can help you hone your skills and add some fun to the process at the same time. You could try to beat your previous score on an online geometry game or even compete against others who have played the same game. Challenging another person to a geometry game can sometimes make your performance even better.

Study With a Capable Tutor
Preparing with a tutor can help you to master geometry for GMAT questions. A tutor can offer you encouragement and guide you in your studies. All of our instructors at Veritas Prep have taken the GMAT and earned scores that have put them in the 99th percentile of test-takers. When you study with one of our tutors, you are learning from an experienced instructor as well as someone who has been where you are in the GMAT preparation process.

Our prep courses instruct you on how to approach geometry questions along with every other topic on the GMAT. We know that memorizing facts is not enough: You must apply higher-order thinking to every question, including those that involve geometry. GMAT creators have designed the questions to test some of the skills you will need in the business world.

Taking a practice GMAT gives you an idea of what skills you’ve mastered and which you need to improve. Our staff invites you to take a practice GMAT for free. We’ll give you a score report and a performance analysis so you have a clear picture of what you need to focus on. Then, whether you want help with geometry or another subject on the GMAT, our team of professional instructors is here for you.

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter!

How to Solve “Hidden” Factor Problems on the GMAT

Magnifying GlassOne of the interesting things to note about newer GMAC Quant questions is that, while many of these questions test our knowledge of multiples and factors, the phrasing of these questions is often more subtle than earlier versions you might have seen. For example, if I ask you to find the least common multiple of 6 and 9, I’m not being terribly artful about what topic I’m testing you on – the word “multiple” is in the question itself.

But if tell you that I have a certain number of cupcakes and, were I so inclined, I could distribute the same number of cupcakes to each of 6 students with none left over or to each of 9 students with none left over, it’s the same concept, but I’m not telegraphing the subject in the same conspicuous manner as the previous question.

This kind of recognition comes in handy for questions like this one:

All boxes in a certain warehouse were arranged in stacks of 12 boxes each, with no boxes left over. After 60 additional boxes arrived and no boxes were removed, all the boxes in the warehouse were arranged in stacks of 14 boxes each, with no boxes left over. How many boxes were in the warehouse before the 60 additional boxes arrived?

(1) There were fewer than 110 boxes in the warehouse before the 60 additional arrived.
(2) There were fewer than 120 boxes in the warehouse after the 60 additional arrived.

Initially, we have stacks of 12 boxes with no boxes left over, meaning we could have 12 boxes or 24 boxes or 36 boxes, etc. This is when you want to recognize that we’re dealing with a multiple/factor question. That first sentence tells you that the number of boxes is a multiple of 12. After 60 more boxes were added, the boxes were arranged in stacks of 14 with none left over – after this change, the number of boxes is a multiple of 14.

Because 60 is, itself, a multiple of 12, the new number must remain a multiple of 12, as well. [If we called the old number of boxes 12x, the new number would be 12x + 60. We could then factor out a 12 and call this number 12(x + 5.) This number is clearly a multiple of 12.] Therefore the new number, after 60 boxes are added, is a multiple of both 12 and 14. Now we can find the least common multiple of 12 and 14 to ensure that we don’t miss any possibilities.

The prime factorization of 12: 2^2 * 3

The prime factorization of 14: 2 * 7

The least common multiple of 12 and 14: 2^2 * 3 * 7 = 84.

We now know that, after 60 boxes were added, the total number of boxes was a multiple of 84. There could have been 84 boxes or 168 boxes, etc. And before the 60 boxes were added, there could have been 84-60 = 24 boxes or 168-60 = 108 boxes, etc.

A brief summary:

After 60 boxes were added: 84, 168, 252….

Before 60 boxes were added: 24, 108, 192….

That feels like a lot of work to do before even glancing at the statements, but now look at how much easier they are to evaluate!

Statement 1 tells us that there were fewer than 110 boxes before the 60 boxes were added, meaning there could have been 24 boxes to start (and 84 once 60 were added), or there could have been 108 boxes to start (and 168 once 60 were added). Because there are multiple potential solutions here, Statement 1 alone is not sufficient to answer the question.

Statement 2 tells us that there were fewer than 120 boxes after 60 boxes were added. This means there could have been 84 boxes – that’s the only possibility, as the next number, 168, already exceeds 120. So we know for a fact that there are 84 boxes after 60 were added, and 24 boxes before they were added. Statement 2 alone is sufficient, and the answer is B.

Takeaway: questions that look strange or funky are always testing concepts that have been tested in the past – otherwise, the exam wouldn’t be standardized. By making these connections, and recognizing that a verbal clue such as “none left over” really means that we’re talking about multiples and factors, we can recognize even the most abstract patterns on the toughest of GMAT questions.

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter!

By David Goldstein, a Veritas Prep GMAT instructor based in Boston. You can find more articles written by him here.

GMAT Probability Practice: Questions and Answers

Roll the DiceThe Quantitative portion of the GMAT contains questions on a variety of math topics. One of those topics is probability. GMAT questions of this sort ask you to look for the likelihood that something will occur. Probability is not as familiar to many as Algebra, Geometry, and other topics on the test. This is why some test-takers hesitate when they see the word “probability” on a summary of the GMAT. However, this is just another topic that can be mastered with study and practice.

You may already know that there are certain formulas that can help solve GMAT probability questions, but there is more to these problems than teasing out the right answers. Take a look at some advice on how to tackle GMAT probability questions to calm your fears about the test:

Probability Formulas
As you work through GMAT probability practice questions, you will need to know a few formulas. One key formula to remember is that the probability equals the number of desired outcomes divided by the number of possible outcomes. Another formula deals with discrete events and probability – that formula is P(A and B) = P(A)*P(B). Figuring out the probability of an event not occurring is one minus the probability that the event will occur. Putting these formulas into practice is the most effective way to remember them.

Is it Enough to Know the Basic Formulas for Probability?
Some test-takers believe that once you know the formulas related to probability for GMAT questions, then you have the keys to success on this portion of the test. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. The creators of the GMAT are not just looking at your ability to plug numbers into formulas – you must understand what each question is asking and why you arrived at a particular answer. Successful business executives use reason and logic to arrive at the decisions they make. The creators of the GMAT want to see how good you are at using these same tools to solve problems.

The Value of Practice Exams
Taking a practice GMAT can help you determine your skill level when it comes to probability questions and problems on every other section of the test. Also, a practice exam gives you the chance to become accustomed to the amount of time you’ll have to finish the various sections of the test.

At Veritas Prep, we have one free GMAT practice test available to anyone who wants to get an idea of how prepared they are for the test. After you take the practice test, you will receive a score report and thorough performance analysis that lets you know how you fared on each section. Your performance analysis can prove to be one of the most valuable resources you have when starting to prepare for the GMAT. Follow-up practice tests can be just as valuable as the first one you take. These tests reveal your progress on probability problems and other skills on the GMAT. The results can guide you on how to adjust your study schedule to focus more time on the subjects that need it.

Getting the Right Kind of Instruction
When it comes to probability questions, GMAT creators have been known to set subtle traps for test-takers. In some cases, you may happen upon a question with an answer option that jumps out at you as the right choice. This could be a trap.

If you study for the GMAT with Veritas Prep, we can teach you how to spot and avoid those sorts of traps. Our talented instructors have not only taken the GMAT; they have mastered it. Each of our tutors received a score that placed them in the 99th percentile. Consequently, if you study with Veritas Prep, you’ll benefit from the experience and knowledge of tutors who have conquered the GMAT. When it comes to probability questions, GMAT tutors at Veritas Prep have you covered!

In addition to providing you with effective GMAT strategies, tips, and top-quality instruction, we also give you choices regarding the format of your courses. We have prep classes that are given online and in person – learn your lessons where you want, and when you want. You may want to go with our private tutoring option and get a GMAT study plan that is tailored to your needs. Contact Veritas Prep today and dive into your GMAT studies!

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

Firm Up Your Vocab Skills for the GRE: The Most Common GRE Words

Test PrepThere are many things that students must do to prep for the Verbal Reasoning section of the GRE. Becoming familiar with vocabulary words used on the GRE as well as their definitions can help students to master many Verbal Reasoning questions. Fortunately, students have several options when it comes to studying the most common GRE words. Consider some creative ways that students can become familiar with vocabulary words used on the GRE:

Word Games
Many students find online word games helpful as they prepare for the GRE. It may be a simple matching game that asks students to pair GRE vocabulary words with their definitions. Or it could be a more familiar game, such as Hangman, that incorporates words seen in Verbal Reasoning questions. Some students like to play online word games with a friend. Competition can make the process of absorbing new words more fun. Plus, a friend can offer encouragement and support that can push a student to learn even more words for the test.

Memorable Sentences
Creating memorable sentences is another way for students to learn high-frequency words for GRE questions. For instance, a student can bring in personal experience when creating a sentence for the word “indelible”: “My mother was angry when my little sister wrote on her bedroom wall with indelible marker.” The student is more likely to remember the definition of the word “indelible” because they created a sentence based on something that happened in their family. Plus, the act of writing sentences on paper further helps a student absorb words and their definitions.

Veritas Prep tutors are experts at helping students prepare for the GRE because we hire tutors who excelled on this exam. In our courses, we give students valuable tips like these for how to learn high-frequency words for GRE questions. Because our students learn test strategies from professionals who have practical experience with the GRE, they get the tools they need to succeed.

Reviewing Flash Cards
Flash cards are effective study tools for students who are learning the most common GRE words. Some students like to make traditional flash cards using a marker and index cards. They write the vocabulary word on one side of the card and its definition on the other. Other students prefer to find an app for GRE flash cards that they can access via their smartphone.

Either way, students can review their flash cards during free moments throughout their day. This can increase the total number of GRE words a student can learn per week. Students can also enlist the help of friends as they review flash cards – a friend can hold up a flash card and ask the student for the definition of the word. Reviewing flash cards with a friend can make study time more effective.

Using New Words on School Assignments
The next study method is perfect for undergraduate students who plan to take the GRE. High-frequency words found on the test can be incorporated into daily assignments for classes. For instance, a student might use several GRE vocabulary words while writing a paper for a literature class, or an individual can use GRE words to complete the essay section on an exam for a history class. Including GRE vocabulary in assignments gives a student additional practice with these words and may even impress a professor or two!

Additional Reading Material
Putting in some extra time reading is another way to prepare for the GRE. High-frequency words seen on the test can sometimes be found in newspapers, nonfiction books, and magazines. Science and news magazines are especially useful for students learning GRE vocabulary. Some classic novels also contain many GRE words. Reading these types of materials gives a student the opportunity to see GRE vocabulary used in context. Once again, this boosts the chances that a student will remember the word when they see it on the test.

Our team of instructors at Veritas Prep knows how to guide students toward success on the GRE. For the convenience of our students, we offer both online and in-person prep courses. We can help students increase their supply of GRE words so they can excel on Verbal Reasoning questions. Our talented instructors address the specific needs of each student. Contact our offices today!

Want to jump-start your GRE preparation? Register to attend one of our upcoming free online GRE Strategy Sessions or check out our variety of GRE Course and Private Tutoring options. And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter!

Setting Your Strategy as a Business School Reapplicant

GoalsThe only thing more challenging than applying to business school is applying twice. After setting a comprehensive strategy in a previous year and not being successful, it can be really challenging to devise a new approach for the same school. For most, their initial MBA application was about sharing their most compelling anecdotes, experiences and challenges, so it can be difficult take on this application again with a whole new approach.

Here are a few tips to help you successfully navigate the reapplication process:

Understand the Process:
Each business school has a different reapplication process so it is important to understand what is necessary to be considered again for admission. The only difference a reapplicant will face from the typical application process is that most schools will require the candidate to submit an additional reapplicant essay (and for some schools, the only new submission necessary may be the reapplicant essay).

To further complicate matters, depending on how far-removed your last application was, your application status may not be technically considered a reapplication. The bottom line here is to make sure you understand the specific process at the programs you are targeting, because there is a lot of variation from school to school.

Review Your Prior Application
Was your previous application the best assessment of your candidacy? Were there any typos? Did you answer all of the questions as posed? Were you truly competitive? These are the type of questions that are important for reapplicants to ask themselves.

Reviewing your old application in-depth and honestly reflecting on your situation will go a long way in ensuring you create a successful application package this time around. It may be difficult to understand exactly why your first application was unsuccessful, but identifying some of the quantitative (easy to flag) and qualitative (harder to flag) issues in your prior application will make it easier to confront the reapplication process.

Take Action and Make Changes
After taking a full inventory of how your candidacy needs to change or improve as a reapplicant, it is important to take action and produce a new and improved submission. For example, if your GMAT score was below the average of your target school, then retake the GMAT again to improve this aspect of your candidacy. If there may have been confusion around your career goals, consider refining or simplifying them to avoid questions surrounding the viability of your post-MBA plans. If your GPA is below the average score listed, create an “alternative transcript” by taking additional classes.

These are just a few of the action-oriented changes a reapplicant can make to their profile. It is important to not simply submit the same application package again and expect different results – that goes for the essays as well, even if the prompt remains unchanged!

Take this also as an opportunity to build upon the relationships you forged during the preparation of your initial application by exploring additional aspects of your candidacy that can reinforce, or clarify, why you would make a great fit for your target program. Follow these tips to better inform your reapplication and increase your chances of admission to your dream school.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

Applying to Business School: How and When to Apply for Business School

Stanford UniversityIndividuals who decide to pursue an MBA often have many questions about the application process. For example, an applicant who recently earned their undergraduate degree might wonder whether they should take the GMAT or the GRE. Another applicant who has worked in the business world for ten years might want to know when they should submit their application to business school.

Let us provide answers to these questions and others for those interested in applying to business school.

When to Apply for Business School
A person’s first step in deciding when to apply for business school is to go online to look at the websites of schools they are interested in. This is an easy way to find out the specific admissions requirements of each school. In addition, they can learn how much time they have to take the proper tests and gather all of the necessary materials for their application.

Many business schools have an admissions process that involves several rounds of applications. As an example, a school that accepts three rounds of applications may set an October 15 deadline for the first round. Students who want to have their application considered for the second round may need to submit it by January 15. Applications submitted during the third round might need to be in by April 10. This school’s acceptance letters are likely to be sent out to students in early summer.

Applicants should keep in mind that schools usually receive the largest number of applications during the first round. There are people who decide to send out first-round applications to some schools and second-round applications to others. By the time the deadline for the third round arrives, many schools have most of their spaces filled.

Requirements for an Application to Business School
Business school applicants must supply basic information such as their name, address, phone number, and email address. Next, they must state where and when they earned their undergraduate degree and include transcripts. Professionals must provide a résumé of their work history. Applicants should also include their extracurricular or volunteer activities.

The typical business school application also asks for an individual’s career goals and how an MBA would help with those goals. Individuals who want some tips on how to get their application noticed by admissions officials can take advantage of our free profile evaluation. Our consultants have worked in admissions at some of the best business schools in the country. Clients benefit from the experience of our admissions consultants at Veritas Prep.

Taking the Appropriate Tests
The GMAT is the test that is most often connected with admission into business school. But some business schools now accept an applicant’s GRE scores. The best way for students to determine which test to take is to check the testing requirements of specific business schools. Our instructors at Veritas Prep help individuals study for the GMAT as well as the GRE. Students who work with us learn useful strategies and prep for the test with instructors who mastered it.

Writing an Essay
Individuals applying to business school must write an essay. Each school provides prospective students with a prompt or a question to answer in the essay. Applicants should take the time to think about it before writing the essay. Jotting down notes is a good way to remember important details to include in the piece. The purpose of the essay is to give admissions officials the opportunity to learn more about the personal side of an applicant.

Recommendations for Business School
People who are wondering how to apply for business school want to know if personal recommendations play a part in the process. The answer is yes. The number of recommendation letters an applicant must get depends on the business school. Recommendation letters for applicants who are professionals in the workforce are usually written by employers, supervisors, or longtime colleagues. Students who are moving directly to business school from undergraduate school may ask their professors, a supervisor on a part-time job, or a mentor for a recommendation.

It’s helpful to the people who are writing recommendations to know the types of things they should include in the letter. An applicant may want to summarize some of their accomplishments and qualities to serve as a guide for the person writing the letter.

For more advice on how to apply for business school, contact our professional admissions consultants at Veritas Prep. Let us use our resources to help you achieve your goal of getting into business school!

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Why Are Some Schools No Longer Requiring Students to Complete the Optional SAT and ACT Essays?

Cornell UniversityToday’s high school student has the choice of either writing or skipping the essay on both the ACT and the SAT. Though many colleges don’t require students to submit an essay score, there are some that still do. This leaves many students wondering whether they should write the optional essay for the ACT and/or the SAT. It’s a good idea for students to find out if a college they are interested in requires an essay score for either of these two tests.

This brings up the question: Why do some colleges require SAT and/or ACT essay scores while others don’t? Take a look at the reasons why many colleges consider the SAT and ACT essays optional for all of their applicants:

Focusing on Other Scores
Some school officials feel that the scores on other sections of the ACT and SAT serve to adequately represent a student’s suitability for college. For instance, a college may focus on a student’s scores in the Reading and Writing and Language sections of the SAT – the Writing and Language section tests skills such as command of evidence, the proper use of words in context, and expression of ideas.

Though a student isn’t actually writing in these sections, their answers can indicate an understanding of these skills. Furthermore, college admissions officials can look at the subscores for these sections to get an idea of a student’s specific skills. Other college officials get a clear picture of a student’s skills by looking at their scores on the Reading and English sections of the ACT. With all of these other scores at their fingertips, many college officials don’t see the need for an essay score on standardized tests.

The Admissions Essay
Many colleges consider the SAT and ACT essays optional because they prefer to focus on a student’s admissions essay. There are some colleges that prefer to set the topic for the essay instead of leaving it to the discretion of the SAT or ACT. They like to have control over what their applicants are writing about as well as the number of words they use.

Furthermore, they want to give their applicants as much time as they need to craft their essays before turning them in with their applications. Consequently, students don’t have the added stress of finishing an essay within an allotted amount of time. School officials feel they can get a good indication of a student’s knowledge of vocabulary, sentence structure, creativity, and ability to express ideas by evaluating the person’s admissions essay. They don’t see the need to factor a second essay into their decision.

High School Literature and English Classes
Other school officials believe that looking at a high school student’s grades in English and Literature gives them enough information to determine whether the applicant would be a good fit at the college. They can see whether a student has taken on the challenge of increasingly difficult courses over their high school career. In addition, if a student has taken honors English classes throughout high school, that is a definite sign of someone with excellent reading and writing abilities. These colleges feel that they get a better indication of a student’s skills by looking at their coursework over a long period of time.

Awards, Honors, and Recognition for Writing
Often, colleges that don’t require students to do the essay on the ACT or the SAT look at whether a student earned any writing awards or honors during high school. For instance, one student’s application may note that they were recognized by a literary magazine for a poem they wrote. Another student may have received recognition from their school for an editorial they wrote for the local newspaper. Prizes and honors for writing endeavors can help convince college officials of a student’s writing abilities.

At Veritas Prep, our professional instructors show students how to sharpen their essay-writing skills as well as prep for every other portion of the SAT and the ACT. We hire instructors who scored in the 99th percentile on both tests because we want our students to learn from the very best teachers! Our students have access to test-taking strategies that can simplify every question on both the ACT and the SAT. Contact Veritas Prep today and tell us how we can help you get into the college of your dreams.

Do you still need help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Quarter Wit, Quarter Wisdom: How to Negate Assumption Answer Choices on the GMAT

Quarter Wit, Quarter WisdomMost GMAT test-takers come across the Assumption Negation Technique at some point in their preparation. It is one of the most effective techniques for assumption questions (which are usually fairly difficult) if you learn to apply it successfully.

We already know that many sentences are invalidated by negating the verb of the dominant clause. For example:

There has been a corresponding increase in the number of professional companies devoted to other performing arts.


There has not been a corresponding increase in the number of professional companies devoted to other performing arts.

Recently, we got a query on how to negate various modifiers such as “most” and “a majority”. So today, we will examine how to negate the most popular modifiers we come across:

  • All -> Not all
  • Everything -> Not everything
  • Always -> Not always
  • Some -> None
  • Most -> Half or less than half
  • Majority -> Half or less than half
  • Many -> Not many
  • Less than -> Equal to or more than
  • Element A -> Not element A
  • None ->  Some
  • Never ->  Sometimes

Let’s take a look at some examples with these determiners:

1) “All of the 70 professional opera companies are commercially viable options.”
This becomes, “Not all of the 70 professional opera companies are commercially viable options.”

2) “There were fewer than 45 professional opera companies that had been active 30 years ago and that ceased operations during the last 30 years.”
This becomes, “There were 45 or more professional opera companies that had been active 30 years ago and that ceased operations during the last 30 years.”

3) “No one who is feeling isolated can feel happy.”
This becomes, “Some who are feeling isolated can feel happy.”

4) “Anyone who is able to trust other people has a meaningful emotional connection to at least one other human being.”
This becomes, “Not everyone who is able to trust other people has a meaningful emotional connection to at least one other human being.”

5) “The 45 most recently founded opera companies were all established as a result of enthusiasm on the part of a potential audience.”
This becomes, “The 45 most recently founded opera companies were not all established as a result of enthusiasm on the part of a potential audience.”

6) “Many of the vehicles that were ticketed for exceeding the speed limit were ticketed more than once in the time period covered by the report.”
This becomes, “Not many of the vehicles that were ticketed for exceeding the speed limit were ticketed more than once in the time period covered by the report.”

7) “The birds of prey capture and kill every single Spotted Mole that comes above ground.”
This becomes, “Not every single Spotted Mole that comes above ground is captured and killed by the birds of prey.”

8) “At least some people who do not feel isolated are happy.”
This becomes, “No people who do not feel isolated are happy.”

9) “Some land-based mammals active in this region, such as fox, will also hunt and eat the Spotted Mole on a regular basis.”
This becomes, “None of the land-based mammals active in this region, such as fox, will also hunt and eat the Spotted Mole on a regular basis.”

10) “No other animal could pose as significant a threat to the above-ground fruits as could the Spotted Mole.”
This becomes, “Some other animals could pose as significant a threat to the above-ground fruits as could the Spotted Mole.”

We hope the next time you come across an assumption question, you will not face any trouble negating the answer choices!

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!

GMAT Tip of the Week: The EpiPen Controversy Highlights An Allergic Reaction You May Have To GMAT Critical Reasoning

GMAT Tip of the WeekIt is simply the American way to need a villain, and this week’s Enemy #1 is EpiPen owner Mylan, which is under fire for massive price increases to its EpiPen product, a life-saving necessity for those with acute allergies. The outcry is understandable: EpiPens have a short shelf life (at least based upon printed expiration date) and are a critical item for any family with a risk of life-threatening allergic reactions.

But perhaps only a pre-MBA blog could take the stance “but what is Mylan’s goal?” and expect the overwhelming-and-enthusiastic response “Maximize Shareholder Value! (woot!)” Regardless of your opinion on the EpiPen issue, you can take this opportunity to learn a valuable lesson for GMAT Critical Reasoning questions:

When a Critical Reasoning asks you to strengthen or weaken a plan or strategy, your attention MUST be directed to the specific goal being pursued.

Here’s where this can be dangerous on the GMAT. Consider a question that asked:

Consumer advocates and doctors alike have recently become outraged at the activities of pharmaceutical company Mylan. In an effort to leverage its patent to maximize shareholder value, Mylan has decided to increase the price of its signature EpiPen product sixfold over the last few years. The EpiPen is a product that administers a jolt of epinephrine, a chemical that can open airways and increase the flow of blood in someone suffering from a life-threatening allergic reaction.

Which of the following, if true, most constitutes a reason to believe that Mylan’s strategy will not accomplish the company’s goals?

(A) The goal of a society should be to protect human life regardless of expense or severity of undertaking.
(B) Allergic reactions are often fatal, particularly for young children, unless acted on quickly with the administration of epinephrine, a product that is currently patent-protected and owned solely by Mylan.
(C) Computer models predict that, at current EpiPen prices, most people will hold on to their EpiPens well past the expiration date, leading to their deaths and inability to purchase future EpiPens.

Your instincts as a decent, caring human being leave you very susceptible to choosing A or B. You care about people with allergies – heck, you or a close friend/relative might be one of them – and each of those answer choices provides a reason to join the outcry here and think, “Screw you, Mylan!”

But, importantly for your chances of becoming a profit-maximizing CEO via a high GMAT score, you must note this: neither directly weakens the likelihood of Mylan “leveraging its patent to maximize shareholder value,” and that is the express goal of this strategy. As stated in the argument, that is the only goal being pursued here, so your answer must focus directly on that goal. And as horrible as it is to think that this might be the thought process in a corporate boardroom, choice C is the only one that suggests that this strategy might lead to lesser profits (first they buy the product less often, then they can’t buy it ever again; fewer units sold could equal lower profit).

The lesson here? Beware “plan/strategy” answer choices that allow you to tangentially address the situation in the argument, particularly when you know that you’re likely to have an opinion of some sort on the topic matter itself. Instead, completely digest the specifics of the stated goal, and make sure that the answer you choose is directly targeted at the objective. Way too often on these problems, students insert themselves in the larger topic and lose sight of the specific goal, falling victim to the readily available trap answers.

So give your GMAT score a much-needed shot of Critical Reasoning epinephrine – focus on the specifics of the plan, and save your tangential angst for the social media where it belongs.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter!

By Brian Galvin.

What You Can Learn from Zootopia About Setting Realistic MBA Goals

imgresZootopia, one of 2016’s top box office hits (grossing over $1 billion dollars), is an animated Disney movie showcasing impressive visuals, funny moments and a powerful theme of acceptance and inclusion. Seemingly a children’s movie, nods to iconic films and television shows such as The Godfather, Breaking Bad, and older Disney works prove to entertain the whole family.

In this entry, we will use this popular movie to illustrate how to strengthen one of the most important aspects of your MBA application: identifying your ambitious, but achievable, post-MBA goals.

Showcasing Your Achievements
Like many MBA applicants, Zootopia‘s main character, Judy Hopps, has excellent academic credentials (valedictorian of her class) and big goals. Judy also has an idealistic view of Zootopia (the city in which she lives), believing that anybody can be anything. Although she has initial success in becoming the first rabbit cop amongst heavyweight mammals (such as buffalo, rhinos, and elephants), she still faces many struggles in her career.

Lessons Learned:
As you write your MBA application essays, highlighting your various distinctions and achievements – including any barriers you have broken or obstacles you have encountered and surpassed (or hopped over) – will help showcase that you possess the ability, drive and perseverance necessary to achieve your future goals.

Ability to Overcome Challenges
The movie also deftly shows how Judy had to grow through prejudices and biases, both of others and of herself, while still keeping her idealism and her belief that she can make an impact on her anthropomorphic world. Seeing Judy win over the trust of her boss, who doubted her abilities to get the job done, makes us believe even more that she can achieve great things in the future.

Lessons Learned:
Sharing personal, vivid anecdotes of the struggles you have faced and how these challenges have helped you evolve and mature will make your business school application more compelling. Sharing your failures, weaknesses, and realizations will allow the Admissions Committee to understand and relate to you better. Remember, you don’t have to be perfect – nobody is!

Using your essays to showcase your self-awareness, how you have handled adversity, and how you have grown will make it more convincing that your post-MBA goals are not driven by blind idealism, but are grounded in reality and are actually achievable. For example, if your future goal requires working with regulators and big businesses across various industries to create social impact, it would be a good idea to share experiences of the similar challenges you have faced in the past, and how you have effectively collaborated with counterparts representing different agendas.

As you identify your bold post-MBA goals, show that you have the experiences, skills and expertise that are necessary to accomplish these goals.  Be sure to refer to specific episodes in your past that display your awareness of what happens on the ground, and that your path to your goal is based on a well-thought-out plan, with the next step being an MBA at your target program. You could also identify the unique benefits you would gain from an MBA at this particular program, enumerating the necessary steps to achieving your objectives.

Outlining these various details will help convince the Admissions Committee that you know what you are getting into, why you need an MBA, and how you will succeed after graduation.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD. 

The Best Undergraduate Business Schools

Macalester CollegeNaturally, ambitious high school students who plan to pursue a career in business want to take a close look at the undergraduate business school rankings published every year. They understand that graduating from one of the top undergraduate business schools can increase their chances of landing a job at a growing company. But what qualities differentiate these undergraduate business schools from all of the others?

Discover some of the most desirable features that the best undergrad business schools have to offer their students:

Qualified Faculty Members
Highly ranked undergraduate business schools have a faculty made up of knowledgeable professors. Often, these schools hire professors who have several years of experience working for a company or corporation. Consequently, students are learning from individuals who have practical knowledge of the business world. Plus, many of the best business schools limit the number of students in each class. As a result, each student is able to receive individual attention from their professor. This allows students to get the most value out of each of their courses.

Students who are curious about their chances of getting into a particular undergraduate school can use Veritas Prep’s free admissions calculator. Our calculator compares a person’s GPA, test scores, and other information with the data of students admitted into a particular college. Students can use the results provided by our admissions calculator to help them decide which undergraduate business schools to apply to.

A Thorough Program of Study
The top business schools provide undergraduate students with a thorough program of study. This type of program includes courses in Economics, Management, Entrepreneurship, Finance, Accountancy, Marketing, Analytics, and Data Science. When a student graduates from a high-ranking school, they will have knowledge of many different areas of business.

Internship Opportunities
Many of the top undergrad business schools have solid relationships with well-known companies and corporations. This opens the door to a variety of internship opportunities for students at the school. Getting an internship at a profitable company can help a student to gain the experience they need to get a great job after graduation. Furthermore, a student who works as an intern can establish contacts with professionals who work at the company. These contacts can be helpful resources as an individual begins to search for a job after graduation.

Executive Speakers
Many of the top undergraduate business schools invite executives to speak to classes of students. These executives share insights and experiences that give students a clear picture of what it’s like to work in the business world. One student may decide to pursue work in a particular area of business after listening to an executive speaker. Another student may plan to apply for work at a specific company after hearing about the company’s goals from a visiting professional. The best undergraduate business schools recognize the value that guest speakers bring to the student body.

A Variety of Financial Aid Options
Undergraduate business schools that are highly ranked provide students with a selection of financial aid options. These schools are looking for well-qualified, determined students who are dedicated to getting the most out of their education. They offer several financial aid options so students from all backgrounds have the opportunity to earn a business degree, as most schools want a campus full of students with different beliefs and interests.

Recruitment Opportunities
The top business schools for undergraduate students attract recruiters from profitable companies and corporations. Seniors have the opportunity to talk with many representatives of these companies to find out about employment opportunities after they graduate. Many of the best business schools can claim that a large percentage of their graduates are hired by these companies every year. The opportunity to work for a well-known company is an enticing factor for many high school students in search of an undergraduate business school.

Our team at Veritas Prep helps high school students prepare for the SAT and ACT by giving them the strategies they need to master each part of these exams. Our prep courses are available both online and in-person. We also have a staff of experienced admissions consultants who can help students with their college applications. We understand the importance of submitting an impressive application to the best undergraduate business schools throughout the country – contact Veritas Prep today and let us assist you on the path toward business school!

Do you still need to help with your college applications? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Why Go to Business School: The Benefits of an MBA

Columbia UniversityWhy business school? This is a question encountered by many ambitious people who decide to pursue a master’s degree. Individuals in an MBA program take courses that deepen their knowledge of accounting, marketing, management, and finance. They also take classes that improve their leadership, communication, and problem-solving skills.

Acquiring this advanced level of knowledge and earning an MBA benefits a professional in the business world in a variety of ways. Check out some of the specific benefits of an MBA degree:

Gain More In-Depth Knowledge of Business
Why go to business school? In addition to expanding their knowledge of accounting, management, and other basic business practices, students who earn an MBA can specialize their degree. For instance, a professional who wants to achieve greater success in a public relations career can earn an MBA with a focus on that particular discipline. Other examples of MBA specialties include Internet marketing, hospitality management, and sports management. A student who earns an MBA walks away with a deeper understanding of their particular field of work.

Earn a Higher Salary
One of the most appealing benefits of an MBA is that it can lead to a higher salary. Someone with this advanced degree has a greater understanding of business practices than someone who possesses only an undergraduate degree. A person with an MBA has specialized skills and knowledge that can benefit a company’s bottom line.

Business schools have a number of requirements that applicants must fulfill. For one, they need to see a student’s scores on the GRE, the GMAT, or both. At Veritas Prep, we provide in-person and online instruction to prepare students for the GRE. We also help students study for the GMAT. Students learn tips and strategies from experienced instructors who have taken these tests with great success! Our tutors use excellent study resources and materials to provide students with first-rate instruction.

Establish Relationships and Garner Contacts
One of the most notable benefits of business school is the opportunity to establish relationships with other business professionals. While earning this advanced degree, students work with individuals like themselves who are likely to achieve tremendous success in their field. These relationships can continue to grow after graduation, proving helpful to an individual as they pursue success in business. Plus, students learn from professors who have relationships with executives in the business world. After graduation, a student may be able to get a recommendation from a professor or get a valuable lead on an open position with a growing company.

Often, well-known executives speak to classes of MBA students. They share their experiences and advice on how to accomplish career goals. Talking with a visiting executive gives a student another opportunity to establish a connection with a business professional that could prove useful later on.

Rise Higher in a Particular Field
Why go to business school? This is a question heard by many business professionals who decide to go back to school after working in their field for several years. One of the benefits of business school is that it gives graduates the knowledge and training they need to rise higher in their profession. They may feel that they have gone as far as they can with just an undergraduate degree in business and they need more skills to make further progress toward their career goals. For instance, a professional who has worked in the marketing department of a company for ten years might decide to earn an MBA with a specialty in Internet marketing. This could prepare them for a promotion to a higher position within the department.

Start a Business
Why business school for an entrepreneur? An entrepreneur who earns an MBA is more prepared for the challenges of starting a business. In fact, a student going through an MBA program can specialize the degree to focus on entrepreneurship. An MBA student specializing in entrepreneurship studies topics such as entrepreneurial finance, technology, and recognizing opportunities that will help a new business to grow. An entrepreneur armed with this knowledge is increasing their chances of success as a business owner.

At Veritas Prep, we assist individuals as they progress on the path toward gaining admission into a preferred business school. Contact our offices today to learn more about our test prep options.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Tips for Applying to Business School as a Couple

GatsbyIf you think applying to business school is a stressful ordeal, then magnify that two-fold and you have the situation that is faced each year by many couples who choose to apply to business school together. Now, this experience represents just a small percentage of total applications, but for those in the midst of applying as a couple, the impact can be life changing.  Let’s explore some tips for applying to business school as a couple:

Understand the Process:
The application process for couples can vary from school to school. At some programs you can identify yourself as a couple in your application, but at others your status will be a bit fuzzier, so make sure you are clear on your target school’s unique process to best position your joint applications for success.

Communicate Your Situation:
It is difficult for the Admissions Committee to take your situation into consideration if they are unaware a situation even exists. As such, make sure you and your significant other communicate your joint status early and often. As a couple, it is even more important to attend admissions road shows, information sessions, and of course, campus visits. These present great opportunities to connect with admissions and show them directly why you and your partner would be a great fit for the school.

Be prepared to state your value overtly, as this could aid your candidacy come decision day. Don’t forget the Admissions Committees at each school are just human beings, so they will employ compassion in their consideration and not aim not to break up families/married couples if both applicants represent a fit with the program.

Select Schools Strategically:
One of the hardest parts of applying jointly to business school is identifying programs that make sense for BOTH applicants. Outside of applying to the same schools, there are a few ways to expand your options as a couple.

Thinking about potential schools in terms of cities can be helpful – Chicago (Kellogg/Booth), Boston (Harvard/MIT), New York (Columbia/Stern/Wharton), the Bay Area (Stanford/Berkeley), etc. – so figure out what makes the most sense for both you and your significant other and consider an application strategy the provides maximum flexibility. Thinking in terms of cities will help you develop the backup plan of applying in Round 2 to a school that will at least allow you to still be in the same city as your partner if only one of you is accepted to a certain program.

Be Realistic:
Applying as an individual takes a lot of self-awareness, but when applying as a couple, this needs to be even more heightened. Few couples are complete equals when it comes to the admissions process, which can bring about some uncomfortable conversations and difficult decisions. So, think long and hard about the permutations and combinations of your applicant strategy if one or both of you gets accepted to each school you are applying to. Remember, admissions decisions are individual – you will each stand on your own merits, so the strength of one candidate will not override an unqualified partner.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

Scheduling Your GMAT Test: Dates, Where & When to Take the GMAT Exam

Six WeeksMost business professionals and others who want to earn their MBA know that taking the GMAT is one step along the path to business school. In addition, you probably know that the GMAT gauges your skills in several different subject areas, from Reading Comprehension to Geometry to essay-writing. But while you might have a plan of study ready to go, you may still have some practical questions about registering for the test.

Get the lowdown on the GMAT, test dates and locations, as well as how long a person should take to prep for this difficult exam before signing up:

When Can I Take the GMAT?
If you are planning to take the GMAT, you’ll be glad to know that it is given many times throughout the year. The process begins by visiting the official website for the GMAT. Fortunately, it is fairly easy to sign up to take the GMAT. Exam dates are shown for testing centers that are convenient to you – once you choose the most convenient place to take the GMAT, testing dates and times are made available for your consideration. Keep in mind that there is a fee of $250 to take the test.

Where Do I Take the Test?
To find a testing location, type your complete address into the search engine on the GMAT website. You may also enter in your city and state or simply your ZIP code to get results. This data brings up options for testing locations in your area. You can choose up to three options to compare times for the GMAT, exam dates, and convenient locations. This search allows you to settle on a testing situation that suits your schedule. GMAT exam-takers should then sign up for the dates and times they like best.

How Do I Sign Up for the GMAT?
After looking at GMAT test dates and locations, you can create an account on the testing website. This allows you to register for the exam and gives you access to other important test information. Not only can someone taking the GMAT schedule test appointments with this account, but you can also reschedule a test or cancel your testing appointment if necessary.

How Long Do I Need to Prepare for the GMAT?
It’s a good idea to study for the GMAT in a gradual way. Trying to cram for this challenging test can be stressful and result in a waste of your time and money. Three months is a reasonable amount of time to spend preparing for this exam.

The GMAT has four sections: Analytical Writing, Integrated Reasoning, Quantitative, and Verbal. Taking a practice test should be your first order of business when preparing for the exam. The results can help you determine where to begin your studies. In order to achieve a high score on the GMAT, you must learn how to approach the questions on the test as opposed to memorizing facts. Our thorough GMAT curriculum at Veritas Prep teaches you how to evaluate and interpret the questions on this exam to filter out unessential information. We teach you how to think like a professional in the business world so you can showcase your higher-level thinking skills on test day.

Helpful Tips for Test Day
It’s normal to be at least a little bit nervous on test day, but you can reduce that anxiety by making sure that you take everything you need to the testing location. For example, you need to have government-issued identification that includes your name, date of birth, photo, and signature in order to take the test. Keep in mind that the name on your ID must be the same as the one on your registration form.

Prepare to spend about four hours at the testing location. Testers may take advantage of the optional two breaks to refresh themselves. Remember that phones, tablets, and other technological devices are not allowed in the testing room.

At Veritas Prep, our professional instructors have the experience and the knowledge to prepare you for the GMAT. Our students learn strategies that give them an advantage over their fellow test-takers. We offer a variety of study options that help you to garner the skills and knowledge you need to walk into the testing center with confidence. Call or email our offices today to get started on the path toward admission into a preferred business school.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And as always, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

How to Break Into Consulting from a Non-Feeder MBA Program

MBA AdmissionsIs your post-MBA goal to enter the competitive field of consulting? If your future business school isn’t a consulting feeder school, don’t despair! Just because your MBA program is not a major feeder into the consulting company of your dreams does not mean that all hope is lost – this just means that you will have to be a bit more strategic and make the most of the more limited opportunities you have to network and interview.

Before we dive into our tips on how to break into consulting from non-feeder MBA programs, it is important to understand what constitutes a non-feeder program. The quick answer: a non-feeder program is a business school at which a specific consulting firm or many consulting firms do not utilize heavy recruiting resources to secure new talent. This can be by not participating in on-campus recruiting, not hiring in major numbers, only hiring locally, or not hiring at all. The employment report of your school should help you deduce the majority of this information.

Now, if you are in this situation, there are still a few ways you can approach the consulting recruiting process to maximize your chances at success:

Create a Plan
Being strategic is one of the most important factors that will help you be successfully hired by a consulting firm, especially if you’re coming from a non-feeder school. Your school’s employment report is your best friend here. Look first at the firms that are “low hanging fruit” – as in ones that already have somewhat of a presence at your school or in the nearby community – then research the other companies that will require much more leg work, and move accordingly.

Start Early
Given that your school is not a key source of talent for some of your target firms, you will need to work a little harder to get on their radar. Whether it is connecting with alumni or utilizing networks, such as a diversity network or your undergraduate network, start this process early because proper networking takes time. At feeder programs, these relationships often occur organically; at non-feeder programs, you will need to leverage your personal network and school resources to tap into these potential decision-makers.

Make the Most of Your Chances
You most likely will not have as many chances as a student from a feeder school to impress upon the firm-specific recruiting team of your qualifications, so it is critical you make the most of your opportunities to snag an offer. If you are fortunate enough to get an interview, it is up to you to perform well in the interview process (if you are unable to secure an offer at that point, then it does not matter as much what program you come from). The case interview in consulting tends to be the great equalizer among applicants, so make the most of your chance, here.

Be Realistic
Finally, it is important to be realistic. Some firms simply will not recruit from a specific program for reasons out of your control, no matter how qualified you feel you are or how well you network. Part of going through the business school selection process is identifying (and hopefully gaining admission) to the schools that will allow you to reach your specific post-MBA career goals, especially if you have certain consulting firms in mind.

Consulting remains one of the most competitive industries to break into, regardless of which MBA program you attend. Utilize the tips above to maximize your chances of securing an offer from the consulting firm of your dreams.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

Tips to Improve Your Class Ranking

help - wordsMost high-schoolers understand that a student’s GPA and class rank go hand in hand. A student’s class rank reveals how they are performing compared to other classmates. In addition, a high school student’s class ranking is one of the elements taken into account by preferred colleges. Take a look at a few tips that can help high school students who’d like to achieve a higher class rank:

Evaluate Study Habits
One thing students can do to raise their GPA is to evaluate their study habits. Some students create a study routine in middle school and practice that same routine throughout their high school years. Unfortunately, this can prevent a student from focusing more attention on subjects that need improvement.

A student should start by looking at the grades they are getting on assignments in each subject. For example, if a student is faring well in English but earned B’s on their last two algebra quizzes, then they should devote more study time to algebra. The most effective study sessions are the ones that are tailored to address a student’s current academic needs.

Take Summer Courses
Most high school students take both required and elective courses. Physical education and health are examples of required courses in many high schools. Students who want to improve their GPA may explore the possibility of taking these required courses during the summer. One of the benefits of this is it allows students the opportunity to take more challenging courses during the school year. Secondly, summer classes are usually abbreviated, which means a student could finish a required class in a few weeks as opposed to dedicating an entire semester to it. Getting a quick A in physical education or health over the summer would be a positive way for a student to begin the next school year.

Get the Assistance of a Tutor
Some students can boost their class ranking by getting just a little bit of help from a tutor. For instance, a student who is having trouble in Geometry might find that they understand various theorems better when they are explained by a tutor. Another student might be able to write more convincing compositions for English class after a tutor shows them a few simple ways to organize their ideas. Sometimes a tutor can provide students with different ways of looking at various concepts and topics. A fresh perspective can be the key to a student’s success in a particular subject.

Take Advantage of Opportunities for Extra Credit
For students in high school, class rank can be affected by their performance in just one difficult course. For example, a student taking a challenging science class may earn a C on an important exam. In an effort to raise that grade, the student can ask the instructor if they can complete an extra credit assignment to make up for the loss of points.

It’s a good idea for a student to have some suggestions for extra credit, such as reading a biography of a famous scientist and writing a paper about the individual. Chances are that the instructor will admire the student’s initiative and provide an extra credit assignment. In short, students have some options when they want to raise a grade in order to improve their high school class rank.

A Note About High School Class Rankings
Though GPA is always a factor in determining class rank, high school students must find out whether their ranking is weighted or unweighted. A weighted class rank means that the difficulty of a course factors into a student’s GPA. Alternatively, an unweighted class rank doesn’t factor in the difficulty of a student’s courses. Students can ask a guidance counselor for clarification on how class rank is determined at their school.

Some high school students who take AP courses might have a harder time keeping a high class rank due to the more challenging material they’re studying, but they have the benefit of being able to go on to take AP subject tests in preparation for college. At Veritas Prep, we provide AP test tutoring services. Our students learn from professional instructors who are experts in the subjects they teach. We offer students solid instruction along with the encouragement they need to master the test.

Our staff at Veritas Prep assists students with studying for both the SAT and ACT, building impressive college applications, crafting standout admissions essays, and more! Contact our offices today and let us know how we can help.

Are you preparing to apply to college? We can help! Visit our College Admissions website and fill out our FREE Profile Evaluation for personalized feedback on your unique background! And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Quarter Wit, Quarter Wisdom: The Power of Deduction on GMAT Data Sufficiency Questions

Quarter Wit, Quarter WisdomIn a previous post, we have discussed how to find the total number of factors of a number. What does the total number of factors a number has tell us about that number? One might guess, “Not a lot,” but it actually does tell us quite a bit! If the total number of factors is odd, you know the number must be a perfect square. If the total number of factors is even, you know the number is not a perfect square.

We know that the total number of factors of a number A (prime factorised as X^p * Y^q *…) is given by (p+1)*(q+1)… etc.

So, if we know that a number has, say, 6 total factors, what can we say about the number?

6 = (p+1)*(q+1) = 2*3, so p = 1 and q = 2 or vice versa.

A = X^1 * Y^2 where X and Y are distinct prime numbers.

Today, we will look at a data sufficiency question in which we can use factors to deduce much more information than what we might first guess:

When the digits of a two-digit, positive integer M are reversed, the result is the two-digit, positive integer N. If M > N, what is the value of M?

Statement 1: The integer (M – N) has 12 unique factors.
Statement 2: The integer (M – N) is a multiple of 9.

With this question, we are told that M is a two-digit integer and N is obtained by reversing it. So if M = 21, then N = 12; if M = 83, then N = 38 (keeping in mind that M must be greater than N). In the generic form:

M = 10a + b and N =10b + a (where a and b are single-digit numbers from 1 to 9. Neither can be 0 or greater than 9 since both M and N are two-digit numbers.)

We also know that no matter what M and N are, M > N. Therefore:

10a + b > 10b + a
9a > 9b
a > b

Let’s examine both of our given statements:

Statement 1: The integer (M – N) has 12 unique factors.

First, let’s figure out what M – N is:

M – N = (10a + b) – (10b + a) = 9a – 9b

Say M – N = A. This would mean A = 9(a-b) = 3^2 * (a-b)

The total number of factors of A where A = X^p * Y^q *… can be calculated using the formula (p+1)*(q+1)* …

We know that A has 3^2 as a factor, so X = 3 and p = 2. Therefore, the total number of factors would be (2+1)*(q+1)*… = 3*(q+1)*… = 12, so (q+1)*… must be 4.

Case 1:
This means q may be 3 so that (q+1) is 4. Since a-b must be less than or equal to 9 and must also be the cube of a number, (a-b) must be 8. (Note that a-b cannot be 1 because then the total number of factors of A would only be 3.)

So, a must be 9 and b must be 1 in this case (since a > b). The integers will be 91 and 19, and since M > N, M = 91.

Case 2:
Another possibility is that (a-b) is a product of two prime factors (other than 3), both with the power of 1. In that case, the total number of factors = (2+1)*(1+1)*(1+1) = 12

Note, however, that the two prime factors (other than 3) with the smallest product is 2*5 = 10, but the difference of two single-digit positive integers cannot be 10. This means that only Case 1 can be true, therefore, Statement 1 alone is sufficient. This is certainly not what we expected to find from just the total number of factors!

Statement 2: The integer (M – N) is a multiple of 9.

M – N = (10a + b) – (10b + a) = 9a – 9b, so M – N = 9 (a-b) . This is already a multiple of 9.

We get no new information with this statement; (a-b) can be any integer, such as 2 (a = 5, b = 3 or a = 7, b = 5), etc. This statement alone is insufficient, therefore our answer is A.

Don’t take the given data of a GMAT question at face value, especially if you are expecting questions from the 700+ range. Ensure that you have deduced everything that you can from it before coming to a conclusion.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!

GMAT Tip of the Week: Making Your GMAT Score SupeRIOr to Ryan Lochte’s

GMAT Tip of the WeekWhat’s the worst thing that can happen on your GMAT exam? Is it running out of time well before you’re done? Or blanking on nearly every math formula you’ve studied?

Whatever it is, it can’t be nearly as bad as being pulled over by fake cops – no lights or nothing, just a badge – then being told to get on the ground and having a gun placed on your forehead and being like, “whatever.” So your big event of 2016 will already go a lot better than Ryan Lochte’s did; you have that going for you.

What else do you have going for you on the GMAT? The ability to learn from the most recent few days of Lochte’s life. Lochte’s biggest mistake wasn’t vandalizing a gas station bathroom at 4am, but rather making up his own story and creating an even larger mess. And that’s a huge lesson that you need to keep in mind for the GMAT:

Don’t make up your own story.

Here’s what that means, on three major question types:

People make up their own story on Data Sufficiency all the time. And like a prevailing theory about Lochte (he didn’t connect the vandalism of the bathroom to the men coming after him for restitution; he really did think that he had been robbed for no reason), it’s not that they’re intentionally lying. They’re just “conveniently” misremembering what they’ve read or connecting dots that weren’t actually connected in real life. Consider the question:

The product of consecutive integers a, b, c, and d is 5040. What is the value of integer d?

(1) d is prime
(2) d < c < b < a

Once people have factored 5040 into 7*8*9*10, they can then quickly recognize that Statement 1 is sufficient: the only prime number in that bunch is 7, so d must be 7. But then when it comes to Statement 2, they’ve often made up their own story. By saying “d is the smallest, and, yep, that’s 7!” they’re making up the fact that these consecutive integers are positive. That was not specifically stated! So it could be 7, 8, 9, and 10 or it could be -7, -8, -9, and -10, making d either -10 or 7. And the GMAT (maybe like an NBC interviewer?) makes it easy for you to make up your own story.

With Statement 1, prime numbers must be positive, so if you weren’t already thinking only about positives, the question format nudges you further in that direction. The answer is A when people often mistakenly choose D, and the reason is that the question makes it easy for you to make up your own story when looking at Statement 2. So before you submit an answer, always ask yourself, “Am I only using the facts explicitly provided to me, or am I somehow making up my own story?”

Think of your friends who are good storytellers. We hate to break it to you, but they’re probably making at least 10-20% of those stories up. Which makes sense. “It was a pretty big fish,” is a lot less compelling than, “It was the biggest fish any of us had ever seen!” Case in point, the Olympics themselves.

No commentator this week has said that Michael Phelps, Lochte’s teammate, is “a really good swimmer.” They’re posing, “Is he the greatest athlete of all time?” because words that end in -st capture attention (and pageviews). Even Lochte was guilty of going overly-specific for dramatic effect: there was, indeed, a gun pointed at his taxi, but not resting on his forehead. His version just makes the story more exciting and dramatic…and you may very well be guilty of such a mistake on the GMAT. Consider:

About two million years ago, lava dammed up a river in western Asia and caused a small lake to form. The lake existed for about half a million years. Bones of an early human ancestor were recently found in the ancient lake bottom sediments on top of the layer of lava. Therefore, ancestors of modern humans lived in Western Asia between 2 million and 1.5 million years ago.

Which one of the following is an assumption required by the argument?

(A) There were not other lakes in the immediate area before the lava dammed up the river.
(B) The lake contained fish that the human ancestors could have used for food.
(C) The lava under the lake-bottom sediments did not contain any human fossil remains.
(D) The lake was deep enough that a person could drown in it.
(E) The bones were already in the sediments by the time the lake disappeared.

The correct answer here is E (if the bones were not already there, then they’re not good evidence that people were there during that time), but the popular trap answer is C. Consider what would happen if C were untrue: that means that there were human fossil remains that pre-date the time period in question.

But here’s where Lochte Logic is dangerous: you’re not trying to prove that the FIRST humans lived in this period at this time; you’re just trying to prove that humans lived here during that time. And whether or not there were fossils from 2.5 million or 4 million years ago doesn’t change that you still have this evidence of people in that 2 million-1.5 million years ago timeframe.

When people choose C, it’s almost always because they made up their own story about the argument – they read it as, “The earliest human ancestors lived in this place and time,” and that’s just not what’s given. Why do they do that? For Lochte’s very own reasons: it makes the story a little more interesting and a little more favorable.

After all, the average pre-MBA doesn’t spend much time reading about archaeology, but if some discovery is that level of exciting (We’ve discovered the first human! We’ve discovered evidence of aliens!) then it crosses your Facebook/Twitter feeds. You’re used to reading stories about the first/fastest/greatest/last, and so when you get dry subject matter your mind has a tendency to put those words in there subconsciously. Be careful – do not make up your own story about the conclusion!

A similar phenomenon occurs with Reading Comprehension. When you read a long passage, your mind tends to connect dots that aren’t there as it fills in the rest of the story for you. Just like Lochte, who had to fill in the gap of, “Hey what would I have said if someone pointed a gun at me and told me to get on the ground? Oh right…’whatever’ is my default answer for most things,” your mind will start to fill in details that make logical sense.

The problem then comes when you’re asked an Inference question, for which the correct answer must be true based on the passage. For example, if two details in a passage are:

  1. Michael swam the fastest race of his life.
  2. Ryan’s race was one of the slowest he’s ever swam.

You might answer the question, “Which of the following is a conclusion that can be drawn from the passage?” with:

(A) Michael swam faster than Ryan.

Your mind – particularly amidst a lot of other text between those two facts – wants to logically arrange those two swims together, and with “fastest” for Michael and “slowest” for Ryan, it kind of seems logical that Michael was faster. But those two races are never compared directly to each other. Consider that if Michael and Ryan aren’t Phelps and Lochte, but rather filmmaker Michael Moore and Olympic champion Ryan Lochte, then of course Lochte’s slowest swim would still be way, way faster than Moore’s fastest.

Importantly, Reading Comprehension questions love to bait unwitting test-takers with comparisons as answer choices, knowing that your mind is primed to create your own story and draw comparisons that are probably true, but just not proven. So again, any time you’re faced with an answer that seems obvious, go back and ask yourself if the details you’re using were provided to you, or if instead, you’re making up your own story.

So learn a valuable lesson from Ryan Lochte and avoid making up your own story, sticking only to the clean facts of the matter. Stay true to the truth, and you’ll walk out of the test center saying “Jeah!”

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter!

By Brian Galvin.

How Do Language Studies Affect Your College Acceptance?

Europeean MBA ProgramsWhy study a foreign language? This is a question high school students often have about the courses they need to take to get into college. Other students wonder about the number of years they should dedicate to studying a foreign language. The fact is that many college admissions officials give special attention to students who participate in second-language studies. Discover a few specific reasons why college officials like to see foreign-language studies included on a student’s application:

Dedication to Learning
Why study a foreign language? It takes a dedicated student to become fluent in a second language. College admissions officials are looking for students who are constantly challenging and strengthening their skills. They are especially impressed when a student takes four years of a foreign language in high school. Students who take just two years of second-language studies have achieved the minimum requirement for most colleges. But a high school student who studies a foreign language for four years has shown dedication to getting a more thorough understanding of the language.

At Veritas Prep, we offer a free profile evaluation to students, and we look at their foreign language courses, extracurricular activities, and other qualifications to help them craft standout applications. We know how to highlight a student’s best assets, including their persistence in learning a new language.

Interest in Other Cultures
Colleges like high school students who are studying a foreign language because it shows an interest in other cultures. Part of studying the language of a foreign country involves learning about the customs and traditions of the people who live there. Interest in other cultures can help a student decide what to study in college or even what type of career to pursue. A class of college freshmen is all the more diverse if it’s filled with students who have knowledge of different people and places throughout the world.

Persistence in Mastering a Difficult Skill
College admissions officials know that it takes persistence to learn a foreign language. A student has to add to their vocabulary while working on pronunciation and constructing meaningful sentences. Also, the student must learn about the history of a country and its people. The persistence a student uses in learning a foreign language is likely to carry over into other classes. Colleges are looking for hard-working students who are eager to excel in all of their subjects. Several years of foreign-language study is an indication of a diligent student.

Earning High Scores on Standardized Tests
One of the other benefits of studying a foreign language is that this type of coursework can help students perform well on standardized tests. The logical thinking and memorization skills used to learn a foreign language in high school can assist students as they tackle questions on the SAT or the ACT. So why study foreign language? Because it can help students boost their standardized test scores and bring them a step closer to an acceptance letter from a preferred college.

Incorporating a Foreign Language in a Future Career
There are some high school students with plans to pursue careers that require knowledge of a foreign language. For instance, one high school student may dream of becoming an executive for a corporation that has offices in Japan, so the student would begin serious study of the Japanese language as a freshman in high school. After four years of Japanese study, the student would want to continue to perfect their skills in college. College admissions officials would certainly take note of a high school student with long-term goals to make use of a second language.

Our professional consultants at Veritas Prep can give students the tips and guidance they need to put together an impressive college application. Our consultants have worked in the admissions offices of the country’s most notable colleges. Consequently, students benefit from the inside experience of our staff.

For students who are wondering what their chances are of getting into a particular college, we have the College Chanculator. After typing in a few items of information, students can see how they compare to others who have already been accepted into a particular school. From online test prep to college application advice, we help high school students toward the school of their dreams!

How a Mock MBA Interview Can Help You Get Into Your Dream School

InterviewCongratulations, you made it to the interview stage! Now what should you do? Knowing the answers to the commonly asked MBA questions a) “Why an MBA?” b) “Why this school?” and c) “Why now?” isn’t enough. Even if you know all of the potential questions that you will need to address, a mock interview with someone who can give you honest and objective feedback will still be very helpful.

Your practice interview can offer you critical insights that may prove to be the difference between admission to your dream school and denial. Here are two reasons why you should have a mock MBA interview before the real thing:

Being well-prepared with your materials and being intelligent is not enough for a business school interview – you also need to know how to deliver your message in a natural and flowing manner.

Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore lost the one of the most narrow and controversial presidential elections in 2000. Well-known for his intelligence, Gore couldn’t connect effectively with his audience, often sounding like he was dictating a letter instead of having a conversation. In contrast, his rival, George W. Bush, came off as “somebody you would want to have beer with,” and could seemingly get away with missteps through his humor and charm.

Thus, don’t just count on your innate intelligence and knowledge in your interviews – practice your delivery, be aware of your mannerisms, and connect with your interviewer. Having a practice interview partner who can identify the bumps in your delivery can help you smooth these out through awareness and repetitions. This will help you feel more relaxed and confident, instead of having to organize your thoughts and search for precise words during the interview itself.

Facilitating mock interviews over the years, I have seen marked improvement for candidates who have gone through  these simulations before their real interviews. The difference between an interviewee who practiced and one who didn’t is night and day in terms of the flow and manner by which they get their messages across.

“Inside Words”
I remember watching an episode of The Simpsons in which the main character, Homer, blurted out loud words he thought he was only saying in his head. Thus, Homer had to remind himself of “inside words/outside words” to guide him on what he could and could not say in public.

Similarly, applicants get used to saying things that may be acceptable within their company or with their families, but may not be politically correct or appropriate for a business school interview. For example, within your team at work, you may know the “(insert nationality here) account” as the most difficult one, however, in citing this as an example during your interview, be very careful that you do not come off as associating negative traits in a generalized manner with a particular race, nationality, or other group.

Your practice interview partner can help you identify such pitfalls, not only in your words, but also through your body language, such as eye-rolls and shrugs, or even subtle changes in tone that may be sending an unintended message.

Polishing these rough edges in your delivery will allow you to shine during your MBA interview and convince the Admissions Committee that you are a gem of a find!

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD. 

GMAT Math Cheat Sheet: Formulas and Tips for Success

ChecklistAn individual who is creating a study plan for the GMAT knows that math must be a part of the equation. Though many people love all sorts of math, there are some who become worried about the Quantitative portion of the exam.

If you’re concerned about the math questions on the GMAT, it can be useful to become more familiar with the specific content in this section. Find out about the types of problems in the Quantitative section and consider some GMAT geometry formulas. Also, check out a gathering of tips on how to prep in an effective way:

What is in the Quantitative Section?
Data Sufficiency and Problem-Solving are the two types of questions in the Quantitative section. The Problem-Solving questions are multiple-choice and test your skills in algebra, basic arithmetic, and geometry. The basic arithmetic questions involve decimals, positive and negative integers, fractions, percentages, and averages. The problems you find in this section are on par with the level of material taught in high school math classes. Though many of the questions on the exam involve basic arithmetic, it’s helpful to have a GMAT formula sheet to refer to when preparing for algebra and geometry problems.

GMAT Formulas for the Math Section
Your GMAT math formulas cheat sheet should include the Pythagorean Theorem. This formula helps you to find the measurement of the third side of a right triangle when given the measurements of the other two sides. Another item on your GMAT math cheat sheet should be A = 1/2 bh, which is the formula for finding the area of a triangle. Distance = rate*time is a very helpful formula to know, too. Find the area of a rectangle in fast fashion by using the formula A = lw. The formula A = s2 will help you discover the area of a square.

Moving Beyond Memorization

A GMAT math formulas cheat sheet is an effective study tool, but it’s equally important to know which formula to apply to a problem, so you should spend time practicing problems that employ each of those formulas. This way, on test day, you’ll be familiar with the formulas and feel comfortable using them. The easiest way to do this, of course, is to let us help you.

The expert instructors at Veritas Prep partner with students to help them learn and to practice these formulas for the Quantitative section. We hire tutors who have excellent teaching skills as well as GMAT scores in the 99th percentile. When you study with us, you know you’re learning from the best! Our instructors work through practice math problems with you to ensure that you understand how to solve them in the most efficient way.

Get the Timing Right
Test-takers are given 75 minutes to tackle the 37 questions in the Quantitative section. This sounds like a long time, but if you get hung up on one question for several minutes, you could end up running out of time for this section. In order to avoid this, you should take timed practice tests. Taking timed tests allows you to establish a rhythm for solving problems and answering questions. Once you establish a rhythm, you don’t have to be so concerned about running out of time before you finish all of the problems.

More Tips for Mastering the Quantitative Section
Studying with a GMAT math cheat sheet is one way to prepare for the test. Another way to save test time and make questions more manageable is to eliminate answer options that are clearly wrong – this allows your mind to focus only on the legitimate choices. Estimating the answer to a problem as you read through it is another way to save test time and arrive at answers more quickly.

Our GMAT curriculum teaches you how to approach questions on the separate math topics within the Quantitative section. Our strategies give you the tools you need to problem-solve like a business professional! We are proud to provide both online and in-person courses that prepare you for the GMAT. Veritas Prep instructors offer solid instruction as well as encouragement to individuals with the goal of acing the GMAT and getting into a preferred business school. Let us partner with you on the road to GMAT success! Contact us to talk with one of our course advisers today.

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter!

Playing Up Athletic Accomplishments in Your Business School Applications

For the MBA admissions game, applicants often feel that the content they should be including in their business school applications is limited to their professional and academic highlights. However, impressive personal details – such as athletic achievements and experiences – can also come in handy when building up one’s profile.

Just as a beauty pageant contestant would want to impress the competition judges with both intelligence and physical beauty, an MBA applicant will do well to win admiration from the Admissions Committee with different aspects of his or her personality, as well.

I know you are applying for a top MBA program (and not an NBA team!), but sharing that you are part of a national team or that you hold (or held) regional, age-level records in your chosen sport will still help your application. Apart from differentiating you from other candidates within your same industry, your accomplishments can also be used to show consistent character traits that have been common in your successes, which you can bring with you as you make the move to business school.

For example, you may highlight the leadership skills and drive that have allowed you to excel as captain of your soccer team as the same strengths that have been key to your success as a project manager. This will help you be more convincing when you say that these skills will enable you to be successful at the prestigious MBA program you are targeting. Likewise, accomplishments in competitive sports can also be effective in strengthening your personal brand – they could be additional illustrations of your reputation as an achiever or as a team player.

Sharing interesting personal anecdotes of how a particular athletic event changed your mindset or helped you grow as a person is another way to leverage your athletic background. Rich materials abound in this field – you can demonstrate your ability to collaborate with teammates, your resilience in overcoming personal setbacks (such as injuries or failures), and other positive traits.

One inherent advantage to showcasing your athletic background is that your stories will be easy to visualize (like an ESPN highlight reel), and the Admissions Committee will be able to better relate to the highs and lows that you share. Thus, your stories become effective set-ups for presenting lessons you have learned and how you have become the person you are today. Aside from strengthening your message by demonstrating it across various contexts, this also presents you as a multi-faceted individual.

Lastly, when presented properly, your passion for sports can be an effective “ice breaker” for your interviews or to help you build relationships with your future business school peers. Sharing a keen interest in a particular sport can develop rapport. Being associated with positive qualities such as strength, agility or gracefulness can only help you as you reach for that coveted spot at a top MBA program.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD. 

Live Chat Event Helps You Find the Right College Match

collegeweeklive-1Deciding which college to attend can seem like an overwhelming decision. How do you know what type of school is best for you? Which are the best degree programs? And once you decide on a school, what will it take to get in?

There’s now a website – – where these questions can be answered in live chats with colleges and education experts. Nearly one million high school students a year visit to text and video chat with admissions counselors at colleges and universities around the country.

Throughout the year, you can watch live presentations or join a one-on-one or group chat to ask anything you’d like about topics like classes, professors, degree programs, campus life, dorm rooms, and more. Many of the participating colleges also have live chats hosted by some of their current students who can give you plenty of insider advice about what it’s really like to live on campus.

Get Free Advice at Back to School Day
The next big event is their Back to School Day on Thursday, August 25, 2016. You and your parents can sign-up for free and login between 2:00-10:00PM EDT to:

  • Chat with representatives from 100+ colleges and universities around the country
  • Attend live presentations and Q&As with education experts
  • Enter to win a $1,000 scholarship when you research colleges during the event

Top Questions to Help You Find the Right College
Don’t be shy about asking questions during a virtual college fair. This is your chance to really get to know each school! Here are some great questions to get you started:

  • What do students seem to like best about your school?
  • What do you feel makes your school stand out?
  • What’s your favorite part of campus?
  • What fun things are there to do off campus?
  • What types of students tend to do best at your school?
  • What percentage of students get a job in their field right after graduation?
  • What test scores do I need to get admitted?
  • What advice do you have for making my application stand out?
  • What are some of your most popular degree programs?
  • Which are some of your strongest programs and why?
  • How accessible are your professors?
  • What types of scholarships are available?
  • What kind of work/study opportunities do you offer?
  • What is student housing like?

Get Advice from Admissions Experts
Education experts such as Ted Fiske of The Fiske Guide to Colleges participate in many of CollegeWeekLive’s online presentations. You can watch live presentations and ask questions during the live events, or even view the presentations on-demand.

Common presentation topics include:

  • How to write a great college essay
  • Tips on researching colleges
  • The ins and outs of college admissions
  • Finding the best scholarships
  • Preparing for the ACTs and SATs

Check out the schedule of virtual college fairs and live chats and signup for CollegeWeekLive for free.


Important GRE Math Formulas to Know Going Into the Exam

Pi to the 36th digitThe Quantitative Reasoning section is just one of three parts of the GRE. In this section, students must answer algebra, arithmetic, geometry, and data analysis questions. In order to prep for this section of the test, students must take time to learn some GRE math formulas, as these formulas aren’t provided on the test. Check out some examples of math formulas for GRE questions and get some tips on how to master this section of the exam.

Examples of GRE Math Formulas

  • Slope-intercept: y = mx + b
  • Distance = Rate * Time or D = RT
  • Average Speed = Total Distance/Total Time
  • For squares: Perimeter = 4s (side); Area = s2
  • For rectangles: Area = Length * Width or A= lw; Perimeter= 2l + 2w
  • For polygons: Total degrees = 180(n-2), where n = the number of sides
  • For circles: Area = πr2 , Circumference = 2πr

Tips for the Quantitative Section
As a student works through this portion of the test, it’s helpful to scan through the answer options and eliminate those that are clearly incorrect. Crossing out these options helps to make a math problem more manageable for a student. Plus, the student doesn’t have to waste time considering answer options that are definitely not going to work.

A second tip is to work problems out on scrap paper. This is especially beneficial when working on word problems – a student is able to see all of the parts of a problem without having to mentally juggle a lot of figures. Furthermore, if a student arrives at an answer that doesn’t match up with any of the options, they can go back to the work on the scrap paper to find the mistake.

Students may want to get into the habit of estimating the answer before considering any of the answer options. This gives the student a rough idea of what the answer looks like before choosing the official solution from the multiple options.

In order to save test time, it’s also a good idea for students to skip extremely puzzling questions and return to them later on in the test period. A student who spends too much time on one problem in the quantitative reasoning section is likely to run out of time before finishing the rest of the section. Students who take the computer-delivered version of the GRE are able to use a convenient “mark and review” tool that helps them to remember the questions that were skipped and go back to them.

Studying for the Quantitative Section
Memorizing math formulas for GRE questions is just one of the effective ways to study for the GRE. Working on practice math problems is another way to prep for the test. This gives a student the opportunity to practice using those math formulas. As they work through a variety of problems, students can become familiar with when to use a particular GRE math formula.

Some students find it helpful to make flash cards with math formulas on them. They can quiz themselves by holding up a flash card with a GRE math formula on it. Next, the student should successfully complete a problem using that formula.

Online math games are another study tool used by many students. Games can be a fun way for students to refresh their algebra skills or get reacquainted with the rules of geometry. Some students like to pair with another person to play these types of math games. Competing with a friend to see who can score more points and end up with more correct answers can be motivating to many students who plan to take the GRE. Plus, it’s always helpful to hear encouraging words from a friend.

All of our GRE instructors at Veritas Prep have taken the exam and achieved impressive scores. They are familiar with the subtleties of this challenging test. In short, our students learn from instructors who know what it takes to master the Quantitative Reasoning section as well as the other sections on the GRE. Our instructors help students to learn the math formulas they need to know to take on the test with confidence. We offer in-person and online courses in which students can get test-taking strategies from the experts. Contact Veritas Prep today!

Want to jump-start your GRE preparation? Register to attend one of our upcoming free online GRE Strategy Sessions or check out our variety of GRE Course and Private Tutoring options. And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter!

When to Pick Your Own Numbers on GMAT Quant Questions

SAT/ACTThe other day, while working with a tutoring student, I was enumerating the virtues of various test-taking strategies when the student sheepishly interrupted my eloquent paean to picking numbers. She’d read somewhere that these strategies were fine for easy to moderate questions, but that for the toughest questions, you just had to bear down and solve the problem formally. Clearly, she is not a regular reader of our fine blog.

As luck would have it, on her previous practice exam she’d received the following problem, which both illustrates the value of picking numbers and demonstrates why this approach works so well.

A total of 30 percent of the geese included in a certain migration study were male. If some of the geese migrated during the study and 20 percent of the migrating geese were male, what was the ratio of the migration rate for the male geese to the migration rate for the female geese? 

[Migration rate for geese of a certain sex = (number of geese of that sex migrating) / (total number of geese of that sex)] 

A) 1/4
B) 7/12
C) 2/3
D) 7/8
E) 8/7

This is a perfect opportunity to break out two of my favorite GMAT tools: picking numbers and making charts. So, let’s say there are 100 geese in our population. That means that if 30% are male, we’ll have 30 male geese and 70 females geese, giving us the following chart:

Male Female Total
Total 30 70 100

Now, let’s say 10 geese were migrating. That means that 90 were not migrating. Moreover, if 20 percent of the migrating geese were male, we know that we’ll have 2 migrating males and 8 migrating females, giving us the following:

Male Female Total
Migrating 2 8 10
Total 30 70 100

(Note that if we wanted to, we could fill out the rest of the chart, but there’s no reason to, especially when we’re trying to save as much time as possible.)

Our migration rate for the male geese is 2/30 or 1/15. Our migration rate for the female geese is 8/70 or 4/35. Ultimately, we want the ratio of the male migration rate (1/15) to the female migration rate (4/35), so we need to simplify (1/15)/(4/35), or (1*35)/(15*4) = 35/60 = 7/12. And we’re done – B is our answer.

My student was skeptical. How did we know that 10 geese were migrating? What if 20 geese were migrating? Or 50? Shouldn’t that change the result? This is the beauty of picking numbers – it doesn’t matter what number we pick (so long as we don’t end up with an illogical scenario in which, say, the number of migrating male geese is greater than the number of total male geese). To see why, watch what happens when we do this algebraically:

Say that we have a total of “t” geese. If 30% are male, we’ll have 0.30t male geese and 0.70t females geese.  Now, let’s call the migrating geese “m.” If 20% are male, we’ll have 0.20m migrating males and 0.80m migrating females. Now our chart will look like this:

Male Female Total
Migrating 0.20m 0.80m m
Total 0.30t 0.70t t

The migration rate for the male geese is 0.20m/0.30t or 2m/3t. The migration rate for the female geese is 0.80m/0.70t or 8m/7t. We want the ratio of the male migration rate (2m/3t) to the female migration rate (8m/7t), so we need to simplify (2m/3t)/(8m/7t) = (2m*7t)/(3t * 8m) = 14mt/24mt = 7mt/12mt = 7/12. It’s clear now why the numbers we picked for m and t don’t matter – they cancel out in the end.

Takeaway: We cannot say this enough: the GMAT is not testing your ability to do formal algebra. It’s testing your ability to make good decisions in a stressful environment. So your goal, when preparing for this test, isn’t to become a virtuoso mathematician, even for the toughest questions. It’s to practice the kind of simple creative thinking that will get you to your answer with the smallest investment of your time.

Plan on taking the GMAT soon? We have GMAT prep courses starting all the time. And be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter!

By David Goldstein, a Veritas Prep GMAT instructor based in Boston. You can find more articles written by him here.

Early Thoughts on Dartmouth Tuck’s 2016-2017 Application Essay Questions

Tuck MBA Application season at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth is officially underway with the release of the school’s 2016-2017 essay questions. Let’s discuss from a high level some early thoughts on how best to approach these updated essay prompts. With all of your essays for Tuck, treat your responses holistically and try to paint a complete picture of your candidacy within the school-specific suite of essay questions.

Essay 1:
Tuck educates wise leaders who better the world of business. What are your short- and long-term goals? How will a Tuck MBA enable you to become a wise leader with global impact? (500 to 700 words)
This essay is Tuck’s take on the common “Career Goals” essay. Tuck returns this year with an updated approach to this essay that asks applicants to hone in on the leadership and impact aspects of their career goals. This is a great opportunity to really show the school how you plan to become a global change agent, and how Tuck is the ideal place to help you manifest this goal. School research is key here, so make sure your school interest aligns with Tuck’s strong value system.

Leadership is not typically an item that is directly called upon in a career essay prompt, so this should be a clear focus in your response. Tuck is looking for candidates who are aspirational and who truly see themselves making an impact on the world around them through a leadership role, so think through how your career goals will do that and make sure to frame your future plans in the context of leadership.

Essay 2:
As a diverse and global community, our students arrive at the same place from many different paths. Tell us about an experience in which you have had to live, learn and/or work with other people very different from yourself. What challenges and/or opportunities did you experience, how did you respond, and what did you learn about yourself as a result? (500 words)
Attending Tuck is a very different MBA experience than one might have at other programs – from the remote location, to the small class size, to the close community, it is your job to convince the Admissions Committee that you are a strong fit for this unique student experience.

In your response, it is important to directly address each point of the prompt while highlighting your strong fit with the Tuck MBA. Tuck is known for their unique culture and strong alumni network, so your evaluation by the Admissions Committee will be based on how well you will fit into their student community.

Don’t limit yourself to just professional examples here; this prompt is purposefully open-ended, so whichever direction you choose to go should showcase a cross-section of both your interpersonal skills and comfort in interacting with people from various walks of life. The experience you select should have a good deal of depth so you are able to address each aspect of the prompt in great detail. Make sure you also connect the dots for the Admissions Committee by detailing the impact this experience had on you, the lessons you learned from it, and how it will factor into your contributions as a Tuck MBA.

Just a few thoughts on the new batch of essays from Tuck – hopefully this will help you get started. For more thoughts on Tuck and its application essays, check out our free Essential Guide to Top Business Schools.

Applying to Dartmouth Tuck or other business schools? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

Invest in Your Success: Preparing for the GMAT in 3, 2, 1 Months

stopwatch-620Are you planning to pursue your MBA? If so, you probably know that most business schools take special notice of applicants who have high scores on the GMAT. In order to perform well on the GMAT, you have to dedicate a reasonable amount of time to study. This brings up the question, “How long does it take to prepare for the GMAT?” Check out some tips to consider when creating your study plan for the GMAT:

Things to Consider Before Starting the Study Process
Before estimating your GMAT preparation time, it’s a good idea to look at the application deadlines for the business schools you’re interested in. Ideally, you want to submit your GMAT scores by a school’s application deadline. For example, a business school might have an application deadline of Oct. 5. Taking the GMAT in August would allow you enough time to retake the test if you’re not satisfied with your score. And if you’re taking the GMAT in August, you could also start studying in May to allow yourself three months of GMAT preparation time.

When you study with our instructors at Veritas Prep, you’ll learn how to approach the questions on the GMAT. Our GMAT curriculum zeros in on each subject within the four sections. We reveal subtleties of the test that can help you avoid common mistakes and achieve a high score.

How to Prepare for the GMAT in 3 Months
Three months is an optimal amount of time to prepare for the GMAT. Naturally, many prospective MBA students want to know the specifics of how to prepare for the GMAT in 3 months. Of course, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to a study schedule. Some people study for three hours per day, five days a week, while others study for two hours a day, seven days a week.

After looking at your practice test results, you may see that you did well on algebra and basic arithmetic questions but need to work on geometry and Data Sufficiency problems, so a two-hour study period on one day may begin with 30 minutes of quizzing yourself with geometry flashcards and 30 minutes of practice problems. The second hour could be dedicated to Data Sufficiency study – this involves evaluating Data Sufficiency questions to practice weeding out unessential information.

During each week of the three-month period, you could work on Quantitative skills for two days, Verbal skills for two days, Integrated Reasoning skills for two days, and Analytical Writing for one. Varying a study schedule helps you cover all of the skills you need to practice and keeps you from growing tired of the routine.

Two Months to Prepare for the Test
Perhaps you’re wondering how to prepare for the GMAT in 2 months. Two months is a relatively short time to study for the GMAT, but it can work, especially if you get impressive results on your practice tests.

One tip is to study for two or three hours several days a week. If your test results reveal that you need to strengthen your Reading Comprehension skills, try increasing the amount of reading you do. Reading financial magazines and newspapers can give you practice with evaluating an author’s intentions and finding the main ideas. Alternatively, if your practice test reveals the need to work on basic arithmetic, you can spend 30 minutes each study period with flashcards containing fractions, percentages and probability problems. Let your practice test results guide your study to make it efficient.

One Month to Prepare for the Test
But what if you’re short on time and need to know how to prepare for the GMAT in 1 month? Once again, your practice test results should guide you in your studies. If you have just one month to prepare, it’s best to study for two or three hours each day of the week.

If you need to strengthen your Analytical Writing skills, find some high-scoring GMAT essays to study. These will help you to see what elements you need to include in your own practice essays. If you find that you run out of time on a practice test in the Quantitative section, work on establishing a pace that allows you to finish in time. Most importantly, create a study schedule ahead of time and follow it closely throughout the month so you give each subject enough attention.

Veritas Prep’s instructors stand ready to help, no matter how many months you have to prepare for the GMAT. Our prep courses are available both online and in person. Contact our offices today to start studying for the GMAT!

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+, and Twitter!

Quarter Wit, Quarter Wisdom: Know Your Subtraction for the GMAT!

Quarter Wit, Quarter WisdomYour first reaction to the title of this post is probably, “I already know my subtraction!” No surprise there. But what is surprising is that our statistics tell us that the following GMAT question – which is nothing extraordinary, but does involve some tricky subtraction – is a 700-level question. That made us decide to write this post. We will discuss this concept along with the question:

The last digit of 12^12 + 13^13 – 14^14 × 15^15 =

(A) 0
(B) 1
(C) 5
(D) 8
(E) 9

This is a simple question based on the cyclicity of units digits. There are 3 terms here: 12^12, 13^13 and (14^14)*(15^15). Let’s find the last digit of each of these terms:

The units digit of 12 is 2.
2 has a cyclicity of 2 – 4 – 8 – 6.
The cycles end at the powers 4, 8, 12 … etc. So, twelve 2’s will end in a units digit of 6.

The units digit of 13 is 3.
3 has a cyclicity of 3 – 9 – 7 – 1.
A new cycle starts at the powers 1, 5, 9, 13 … etc. So, thirteen 3’s will end in a units digit of 3.

This term is actually the most simple to manage in the case of its units digit – an even number multiplied by a multiple of 5 will end in 0. Also, note that this will be a huge term compared to the other two terms.

This is what our expression looks like when we consider just the units digits of these terms:

(A number ending in 6) + (A number ending in 3) – (A much greater number ending in 0)

Looking at our most basic options, a number ending in 6 added to a number ending in 3 will give us a number ending in 9 (as 3 + 6 = 9). So, the expression now looks like this:

(A number ending in 9) – (A much greater number ending in 0)

It is at this point that many people mess up. They deduce that 9-0 will end in a 9, and hence, the answer will be E. All their effort goes to waste when they do this. Let’s see why:

How do you subtract one number out of another? Take, for example, 10-7 = 3

This can also be written as 7-10 = -3. (Here, you are still subtracting the number with a lower absolute value from the number with a greater absolute value, but giving it a negative sign.)

Let’s try to look at this in tabular form. The number with the greater absolute value goes on the top and the number with the smaller absolute value goes under it. You then subtract and the result gets the sign of the number with the greater absolute value.

(i) 100-29

(ii) 29-100
(But since the sign of 100 is negative, your answer is actually -71.)

So, the number with greater absolute value is always on top. Going back to our original question now, (A number ending in 9) – (A much greater number ending in 0) will look like:

–  pq9

Ignoring the letter variables (these are simply placeholders), note that the greater number ending in 0 will be on the top and the smaller one ending in 9 will be below it. This means the answer will be a negative number ending in a units digit of 1. Therefore, our answer is B.

As we learn more advanced concepts, make sure you are not taking your basic principles for granted!

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And, be sure to follow us on FacebookYouTube, Google+, and Twitter!

Karishma, a Computer Engineer with a keen interest in alternative Mathematical approaches, has mentored students in the continents of Asia, Europe and North America. She teaches the GMAT for Veritas Prep and regularly participates in content development projects such as this blog!

GMAT Tip of the Week: What Simone Biles and the Final Five Can Teach You About GMAT Math

GMAT Tip of the WeekOn this Friday, ending the first week of the Rio Olympics, your office has undoubtedly said the name “Simone” exponentially more than ever before. Michael Phelps’ blowout win – his 4th straight – in the 200 IM was incredible, but last night belonged to two Texans named Simone.

Swimmer Simone Manuel and gymnast Simone Biles each won historic gold medals, and if you’re at all inspired to pursue your own “go for the gold” success in business school (maybe Stanford like Manuel, or UCLA like Biles), you can learn a lot from the Olympic experience. Two lessons, in particular, stand out from the performance of Biles and her “Final Five” teammates:

Connect Your Skills
There’s no way to watch Olympic gymnastics and not be overwhelmingly impressed by the skills that each gymnast brings to competition. So at times it’s frustrating and saddening to hear the TV announcers discuss deduction after deduction; shouldn’t everyone at all times just be yelling, “Wow!!!!” at the otherworldly talents of each athlete?

Much like the GMAT, though, Olympic gymnastics is not about the sheer possession of these skills – at that level, everyone has them. It’s more about the ability to execute them and, as becomes evident from the expert commentary of Tim Dagget and Nastia Liukin, to connect them. It’s not the uneven bars handstand or release itself that wins the gold, it’s the ability to connect skill after skill as part of a routine. The line, “She was supposed to connect that skill to another…” is always followed by, “That will be a deduction” – both in Olympic gymnastics and on the GMAT.

How does that affect you?

By test day, you had better have all of the necessary skills to compete on the GMAT Quant Section. Area of a triangle, Pythagorean Theorem, Difference of Squares…if you don’t know these rules, you’re absolutely sunk. But to do really well, you need to quickly connect skill to skill, and connect items in the problems to the skills necessary to work with them. For example:

If a problem includes a term x^4 – 1, you should immediately be thinking, “That connects really well to the Difference of Squares rule: a^2 – b^2 = (a + b)(a – b), and since x^4 is a square [it’s (x^2)^2] and 1 is a square (it’s 1^2), I can write that as (x^2 + 1)(x^2 – 1), and for good measure I could apply Difference of Squares to the (x^2 – 1) term too.” The GMAT won’t ever specifically tell you, “Use the Difference of Squares,” so it’s your job to immediately connect the symptoms of Difference of Squares (an even exponent, a subtraction sign, a square of some kind, even if it’s 1) to the opportunity to use it.

If you see a right triangle, you should recognize that Area and Pythagorean Theorem easily connect. In a^2 + b^2 = c^2, sides a and b are perpendicular and allow you to use them as the base and height in the area formula. And the Pythagorean Theorem includes three squares with the opportunity to create subtraction [you could write it as a^2 = c^2 – b^2, allowing you to say that a^2 = (c + b)(c – b)…], so you could connect yet another skill to it to help solve for variables.

Similarly, if you see a square or rectangle, its diagonal is the hypotenuse of a right triangle, allowing you to use the sides as a and b in the Pythagorean setup, which could also connect to Difference of Squares…etc.

When you initially learned most of these skills in high school (much like when Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas, etc. learned handstands and cartwheels in Gymboree), you learned them as individual, isolated skills. “Here’s the formula, and here are 10 questions that test it.” On the GMAT – as in the Olympics – you’re being tested more on your ability to connect them, to see opportunities to use a skill that’s not obvious at first (“Well, I’m not sure what to do but I do have multiple squared terms so let me try to apply Difference of Squares…or maybe I can use a and b in the Area calculation.”), but that helps you build more knowledge of the problem.

So as you study, don’t just learn individual skills. Look for opportunities to connect them, and look for signals that will tell you that a connection is possible. A rectangle problem with a square root of 3 in the answer choices should tell you “the diagonal of this rectangle may very well be connected to a 30-60-90 triangle, since those have the 1, √3, 2 side ratio…” The GMAT is about connections more so than just skills, so study accordingly.

Stick the Landing
If you’re like most in the “every four years I love gymnastics for exactly one week” camp, the single most important thing you look for on any apparatus is, “Did he/she stick the landing?” A hop or a step on the landing is the most noticeable deduction on a gymnastics routine…and the same holds true for the GMAT.

Again, the GMAT is testing you on how well you connect a variety of skills, so naturally there are places for you to finish the problem a step short. A problem that requires you to leverage the Pythagorean Theorem and the Area of a Triangle may ask for the sum of sides A and B, for example, but if you’ve solved for the sides individually first, you might see a particular value (A = 6) on your noteboard and in the answer choices and choose it without double checking that you answered the proper question.

That is a horrible and unnecessary “deduction” on your GMAT score: you did all the work right, all the hard part right (akin to the flip-and-two-twists in the air on your vault or the dazzling array of jumps and handstands on the tiny beam) and then botched the landing.

On problems that include more than one variable, circle the variable that the test is looking for and then make sure that you submit the proper answer for that variable. If a problem asks for a combination of variables (a + b, for example), write that down at the top of your scratchwork and go back to it after you’ve calculated. Take active steps to ensure that you stick the landing, because nothing is worse than doing all the work right and then still getting the problem wrong.

In summary, recognize that there are plenty of similarities between the GMAT and GyMnAsTics [the scoring system is too complex for the layman to worry about, the “Final Five” are more important than you think (hint: the test can’t really use the last five questions of a section for research purposes since so many people are rushing and guessing), etc.]. So take a lesson from Simone Biles and her gold-medal-winning teammates: connect your skills, stick the landing, and you’ll see your score vault to Olympian heights.

Getting ready to take the GMAT? We have free online GMAT seminars running all the time. And as always, be sure to follow us on Facebook, YouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter!

By Brian Galvin.

Applying Nassim Taleb’s Thoughts to Your Future Post-MBA Career

GMATNassim Taleb, the thought-provoking, bestselling author of Fooled by Randomness, Black Swan, and Antifragile, always pokes fun at MBAs, economists, and academic types. What then can we learn from him, given his seemingly evident contempt for the path you are planning to take? How can you use his own thoughts to your advantage towards achieving your post-MBA goals?

Have a Sense of Humor
Well, to put things in perspective, Taleb himself is a Wharton MBA and has served as a professor at NYU. So, the first lesson for everybody would be this: Don’t get too attached to titles and distinctions. Let’s have a sense of humor about ourselves!

Aside from allowing us to enjoy life more, having a sense of humor reduces our biases, making us more conscious of “unknown unknowns.” It also helps us keep our minds open to new experiences and ideas outside the defined “knowledge” in our specific fields.

Be Aware of the Problem with Experts
Taleb also humanizes “experts” – no matter how distinguished they may be in their fields, their error rates are higher than what you would expect. Thus, as you make your career-defining decisions, be sure to keep in mind what the downsides would be if the expert predictions you have relied on fail.

Credentials, jargon and expensive suits can make gurus, economists and military analysts look like real experts, even if they have poor track records of success or predictive abilities. Beware of relying blindly on these “empty suits” who can be anywhere, including CEOs, senior managers and classmates. With no exceptional ability to achieve results, “empty suits” focus on looking and sounding credible, rather than providing real substance. As an MBA, it would help you to develop both the ability to detect these “empty suits,” and still learn skills to effectively communicate with them.

By observing them closely, you can consider adopting the tactics they use that work (while avoiding what doesn’t work) and integrating them into your (hopefully!) sound reasoning and solid plans. This will help you better present your ideas and win people over to help achieve your projects’ objectives and your personal goals.

Domestication of Employees?
In an excerpt from Taleb’s work-in-progress book, Skin in the Game, he shares perspectives on the power structure between employers and employees.

Drawing from his personal experiences and observations, Taleb discusses the evolution of the “company person” into a “companies person”. As a high-potential employee, you will no longer be only concerned about your reputation within your own company, but the times now dictate that you will also want to be attractive to other companies in the event that you have to move on, whether by circumstances or by choice. Taleb argues that caring so much about this reputation and about performance evaluations by your direct superiors is a form of slavery.

Employees who have relocated with their entire families to remote outposts of their companies also fall into the trap of having their whole lives hanging by the whimsical thread of the boss at headquarters. Thus, they cannot be expected to make any radical decisions that could potentially displease their superiors. The employees with the most freedom are often salespeople – they don’t have to worry as much about pleasing their bosses as they hold the potential threat of taking customers with them if they move.

Knowing what you are getting into within the power structure of your role, organization and industry could help serve as an additional guide on how to handle your own expectations and how to plan for your next moves.

You may not completely agree with Taleb’s conclusions, but do consider his thoughts as you navigate your post-MBA career. Being aware of these concepts and lessons may just help your future professional life.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD. 

Does Your GMAT Score Matter Once You’re Admitted Into Business School?

08fba0fOne of the most anxiety-inducing and nerve-wracking aspects of the MBA application process for many candidates is the GMAT. Whether it is preparing for the exam, actually taking the test, or wondering if your score is high enough and your Verbal/Quant splits are well-balanced, the GMAT can drive you crazy. However, once applicants are able to break through and secure admission into their target programs, one would think all of this GMAT stress is behind them, right?

Unfortunately, not exactly. For most students, the GMAT is, in fact, a thing of the past and they can breathe easy and move on from those dreaded four letters after business school begins. For some students, however, their GMAT score can still represent an important measure of aptitude even past the MBA application process and matriculation.

Let us focus on these students who must still concern themselves with their GMAT scores. The GMAT is really only relevant for recruiting purposes at this point, and only in a select few industries that tend to put a heavy weight on analytical skills and “intellectual horsepower.”

The most common industry recruiters that fit the bill here are management consulting firms like the Boston Consulting Group, financial institutions like Goldman Sachs, and prestigious tech companies like Google. These specific firms are just used for representative purposes, but many similar companies use the GMAT as a key decision point when selecting students for interviews, and also when making their final decisions in on-campus hiring. Therefore, it is important to do your due diligence and discuss with the recruiting firms you are interested in the components that factor into their decision-making processes.

Generally, companies that put an emphasis on the GMAT are looking for you to break a threshold. So it is not simply “the higher score you get, the better your chances.” The standard tends to be at the 700 mark – if your score is below this threshold, your chances at securing an interview or an offer at these firms may be a bit more difficult. Although again (I cannot emphasize this enough), every firm has a different value system towards the GMAT and you will often never truly know how much of a factor it plays within the recruiting process, but it is still important to keep in mind that it is a factor.

Information is king! Do your due diligence upfront in the recruiting process, understand the strengths and weakness of your profile, and be knowledgeable of how factors like the GMAT may play a role during on-campus recruiting.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

Early Thoughts on UNC Kenan-Flagler’s 2016-2017 Application Essay Question

MBA@UNCApplication season at the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School is officially underway with the release of the school’s 2016-2017 application essay questions. Let’s discuss from a high level some early thoughts on how best to approach this year’s essay prompts:


Essay 1Please describe your short and long term goals post-MBA.
Explain how your professional experience has shaped these goals; why this career option appeals to you; and how you arrived at the decision that now is the time and the MBA is the appropriate degree? (500 words)
This is a very involved career goals essay, so you’ll want to make sure you compartmentalize each component of the prompt to ensure you are properly answering the question. 500 words is generally seen as a lengthy word count among the essays of other top business schools this year, but with all of the components in this essay, it is critical to stay concise with your response and move things along.

Addressing your response to this prompt via a relevant story that captures your passion for your desired career path is a great way to stand out while still informing the Admissions Committee of your post-MBA goals.

Essay 2: Optional
What personal qualities or life experiences distinguish you from other applicants? How do these qualities or experiences equip you to contribute to UNC Kenan-Flagler? (300 words)
These questions can be difficult for many candidates to answer, but for an MBA application, candidates must be unafraid to highlight what makes them truly unique. Remember, unless you say it, the Admissions Committee will never know, so don’t be bashful here.

Focus on the “distinguish” aspect of the prompt to highlight not only what makes you unique, but also what you could potentially bring to campus. Try to avoid basic responses here – dig deep to think through your personal and professional strengths and connect them to UNC student life and what you could contribute to the Kenan-Flagler community.

Essay 3: Optional
If your standardized test scores are low, or if you have not had coursework in core business subjects (calculus, microeconomics, statistics, financial accounting), please tell us how you plan to prepare yourself for the quantitative rigor of the MBA curriculum (300 words)
Only answer this question if you realistically fall into this bucket. If your GMAT score is materially lower than the average score listed for Kenan-Flagler students, then the school would probably define you as a “low test score” recipient. If you have worked in an analytical function or plan to take pre-MBA coursework, this essay would be a good opportunity to highlight these aspects of your profile to address the potential red flag of your score.

Essay 4: Optional
Is there any other information you would like to share that is not presented elsewhere in the application? (300 words)
This is a more traditional optional essay, so only use it if it feels absolutely necessary (given that the school already has a few outlets to address typical optional essay topics). This essay tends to be a good area to show an aspect of your personality, passion, perspective or professional career that has not been discussed otherwise in your application.

Just a few thoughts on the new batch of essays from Kenan-Flagler that should help you get started for this admissions season.

Applying to UNC or other business schools? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! As always, be sure to find us on FacebookYouTubeGoogle+ and Twitter.

Dozie A. is a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University. His specialties include consulting, marketing, and low GPA/GMAT applicants. You can read more articles by him here.

3 Things Entrepreneurs Can Gain From an MBA

GoalsHarvard Business Review recently published the article, “Why More MBAs Should Buy Small Businesses” by professors Richard S. Ruback and Royce Yudkoff. This article presented the argument that it makes sense for MBA graduates to buy small businesses as, in the long run, it benefits their independence and certainty (after the initial stress of the business search process, of course).

Browsing through the comments of HBR’s original Facebook link to this article, entrepreneurs with MBAs expectedly felt validated that experts from Harvard itself supported their path. This is understandable, as they have surely received mouthfuls before from friends, families and foes ridiculing how they are “wasting” their expensive MBA credentials.

On the other hand, some stated how unnecessary it is to have an MBA to create a small business, frequently citing tycoons who did not have MBAs, and how the funds used to pay for business school could have been used as start-up capital, instead. Owning a small business may not be for everybody due to the risk and investment required, but it is a path to consider.

So, what then does an entrepreneur gain from an MBA?

1) A Strategic View
Learning about the rise and fall of industries, companies and products, as well as the market forces that drive them, will help you gain a big-picture look of business and allow you to better determine the feasibility of your ideas. It will also equip you with a general range of probabilities for your success, while also keeping you conscious of both the upside and downside of your venture. Having some awareness of broad industry and economic trends – while keeping an eye out for disruptive technologies or events – could help you spot opportunities and risks.

Key concepts on managing finances and operations, such as the trade-off between debt and equity or between stock-outs and spoilage (or obsolescence), are important takeaways from an MBA that will help save you money in the long run, or even be the difference between the life and death of your enterprise.

2) Recognition of Human Factors
During the first month of my MBA program, I was filled with stories of how giant companies – reputable ones filled with the smartest people – made errors that a rational person would not have committed. The reason? Organizational politics, silo mentalities, misalignment of incentives, or just plain misplaced egos!

Being aware of these human factors can help an entrepreneur build a strong organizational culture that is able to implement strategies and processes sustainably, while also creating a healthy work environment that encourages accountability and growth throughout.

Learning about these human factors will also help you deal with outside organizations – including clients, suppliers and service providers – in the future. Being able to negotiate and effectively manage your relationships with these key stakeholders will be as critical to your success as any business activity.

3) A Rise in Self-Awareness
Decisions, decisions and more decisions! You have craved to have more independence and to be able to do things your way; the hierarchy, multiple levels of approval and authority limits that frustrated you before is no longer there. What you have now as an entrepreneur is the responsibility to make decisions (both large and small) that directly affect your business, your employees and your family.

The classes and group exercises at business school will allow you to become more aware of your biases, strengths and limitations, both intellectually and emotionally. Being aware of these should better inform you when it comes time to consult with others, delegate projects, and pull the trigger on tough decisions. Having an idea of the potential impact of your choices should also be able to guide you as to the time and energy you should allocate for these.

To conclude, getting an MBA is not a necessary condition for entrepreneurs or a guarantee for business success, but it does improve your probabilities of getting it right! At the very least, it should also help provide you with a safety net and an option to go back to the corporate life if you later choose to do so.

Applying to business school? Call us at 1-800-925-7737 and speak with an MBA admissions expert today, or take our free MBA Admissions Profile Evaluation for personalized advice for your unique application situation! And as always, be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter.

Written by Edison Cu, a Veritas Prep Head Consultant for INSEAD. 

Protect Your Investment – The Cost of the SAT Exam

SAT Tip of the Week - FullMost students who plan to take the SAT have a lot of questions about the test itself, as well as issues related to signing up for the test. One common question is: How much is it to take the SAT? The SAT does have a registration fee, so it’s natural that students will want to put forth their best efforts on the test. After all, they are investing both their money and time in the SAT. They want to earn scores that will get them into the college they want to attend.

Apart from concerns about what might be on the test, however, the one question that is likely to be on the mind of someone about to take it is: How much is it to take the new SAT? We have the answer, as well some ideas about what students can do to protect their investment in the SAT:

The New SAT Test Price
The new SAT test price is $45.00 without the optional essay and $57.00 with the optional essay. Paying this registration fee enables students to take the test and receive their scores. A scoring report displays a student’s test scores as well as how those scores compare to the scores of other students who took the test. This information plays an important role in the college admissions process. Not surprisingly, a student who pays the registration fee to take the SAT wants to perform well on the test in order to avoid paying again to retake the test.

Make Studying for the SAT a Priority
Fortunately, there are several things that students can do to perform well on the SAT the first time they take it. For one, students can think of their SAT prep as an extension of their schoolwork. This means a student must devote a certain amount of time each day to studying for the Critical Reading, Writing and Mathematics sections on the test. As a result, preparing for the SAT becomes a priority and part of a student’s daily routine. This approach allows a student to thoroughly absorb the material in a gradual way.

Practice with the Experts
At Veritas Prep, our talented instructors have first-hand experience with the SAT. In fact, the test scores of our instructors place them in the top 1% of all SAT test takers! In short, students who sign up for our SAT courses are protecting their investment by preparing with individuals who are experts on the test.

Students take practice tests to find out which skills they need to improve. They study for the test with first-rate resources such as our Veritas Prep SAT workbook and Vocabulary Builder. Our online and in-person instructors convey practical strategies to students to help them simplify their approach to any question on the test. With Veritas Prep, students are able to prepare for the SAT in a way that allows them to feel more confident as test day draws near.

Preparing and Planning for Test Day
Students who study for the SAT in a gradual way are setting themselves up for success on the test. As test day approaches, there are other things that students can do to further protect their investment in the SAT. One thing a student can do is to participate in regular physical exercise and get at least eight hours of sleep per night. These practices contribute to a student’s overall health and can help him or her to feel great on test day.

The night before the test, a student should plan to eat a healthful meal and go to sleep early. This can help a student to feel rested and ready to work. Instead of eating a high-sugar breakfast on test day, students may want to consider eating a protein bar or another protein-rich food that will supply them with lasting energy.

In addition, a student may want to set out the items that he or she needs to take to the test. These items include two pencils with an eraser, a photo ID, the test admission ticket, an approved calculator, a wristwatch and a snack. Setting out all of these items helps a student to avoid the stress of rushing around to find things on the morning of the test.

Our professional instructors at Veritas Prep assist students in protecting their investment of time and money in the SAT. Our SAT courses are ideal for students who want to learn effective tips and test-taking techniques that can boost their scores on the SAT.

Still need to take the SAT? Check out our variety of free SAT resources to help you study successfully. And be sure to find us on Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and Twitter!